CLINTON — Clinton dodged bullets in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings Thursday night to stay within a run of Burlington before finally pulling even in the bottom of the ninth.
The LumberKings escaped again in the top of the 10th. But playing with danger finally caught up to them in the 11th as a pair of wild pitches helped the Bees score the go-ahead run for a 3-2 victory in Clinton’s final home game of the first half of the Midwest League baseball season.
“We had some chances, some opportunities; we just didn’t take advantage of them,” Clinton manager Scott Steinmann said. “The top of that last inning, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with some wild pitches there and gave them a little bit of a break.”
It was the kind of break the Bees (36-30) no doubt appreciated. They head into the final three games of the first half with a two-game lead over Peoria, Quad Cities and Wisconsin for the final playoff-qualifying spot in the Western Division. Kane County (45-22) already has wrapped up the first-half title.
Seon Gi Kim, who stranded a Burlington runner on third base to end the ninth and 10th innings, was saddled with the loss for Clinton, although he wasn’t around at the end.
Chad Hinshaw led off the 11th with a single to center field, but Kim got Mike Fish to pop out to shortstop Jack Reinheimer. Steinmann then called on Paul Fry to pitch, and he struck out Eric Aguilera for the second out.
But, Fry had control problems after that.
Hinshaw stole second base, and Exicardo Cayones walked on a wild pitch that allowed Hinshaw to take third. Cayones took second on defensive indifference, then Fry uncorked another wild pitch, with Hinshaw scoring what proved to be the winning run.