Special to the Herald
CLINTON — Beloit's pitching shut down the Clinton bats Friday, handing the LumberKings their first doubleheader sweep of the Midwest League baseball season. The Snappers, riding a three-game sweep of Kane County, won 1-0 and 5-2 at Ashford University Field.
Game 1 featured two highly touted right-handers in the Seattle and Oakland minor league organizations. Clinton’s Edwin Diaz – ranked No. 5 by Baseball America – and Beloit’s Kyle Finnegan – ranked No. 16 by Baseball America, found themselves locked in a pitchers duel that saw the first five innings blow by in just over an hour.
Finnegan faced the minimum through the first four innings, and Diaz matched the Snappers righty pitch-for-pitch, blanking Beloit through the first five innings.
In the top of the sixth, Diaz (1-2) made his lone mistake. With one out, the Puerto Rican fell behind Tyler Marincov before the Snappers slugger cleared the wall in left, providing the only run of the game.
Clinton threatened against Finnegan (3-1) in the seventh, but left the tying run 90 feet away.
Marcus Littlewood reached on a fly ball to left after B.J. Boyd slipped on the rain-soaked outfield grass that had absorbed nearly 1 1/2 inches of rain in the past day. Zach Shank replaced Littlewood as a pinch runner and moved to third two outs later. Joe DeCarlo then drilled a liner to Boyd again in left – and similar to Littlewood reaching via Boyd slipping, Boyd nearly cost the Snappers by losing his footing again. However, he regained his balance and snagged DeCarlo’s line drive, ending the game in dramatic fashion.
In Game 2, Clinton welcomed pitcher Seon Gi Kim back from High Desert – a South Korean who spent part of 2011 and all of 2012 with the LumberKings. Kim, who struggled out of the gate this season with the Mavericks at the Advanced-A level, delivered a strong start, throwing four shutout innings.
The L’Kings grabbed their only lead of the night with one run in the third inning off Brent Powers, the run coming on the first of two RBI groundouts by Austin Wilson. But the Snappers battled back against Clinton reliever Paul Fry in the fifth and sixth, scoring three and two runs in the innings, providing plenty of support for the Beloit bullpen, which blanked the LumberKings over the final two frames.
Beloit (18-22) extended its winning streak to a season-high five games, while Clinton (21-18) lost 1 1/2 games in the standings after Peoria and Kane County both picked up wins in their respective games.
Jack Reinheimer pushed his hitting streak to eight games by recording a single in Game 1 and a triple in the nightcap. The LumberKings recorded just four hits apiece in both games.
Clinton and Beloit meet for again at 6:30 tonight and then cap the four-game series at 2 p.m. Sunday.