A laugher turned into a nail-biter for the Clinton LumberKings as they held off a late charge to beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels, 9-8, at Perfect Game Field on Wednesday night.
The LumberKings held a 9-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. John Taylor, who had retired all six of the batters he faced in the seventh and eighth, quickly ran into trouble. He allowed consecutive walks to start the inning and then hit catcher Zach Wright to load the bases with no outs.
Trevor Hairgrove singled through the right side to cut the lead to 9-4 and Zach Borenstein followed with a bases-clearing triple to bring the lead to 9-7. An RBI groundout by Eric Stamets trimmed the lead to 9-8, but also produced the first out of the frame.
David Colvin got loose in a hurry in the bullpen and was summoned into the game. He promptly retired second baseman Alex Yarbrough on a line out to left and struck out Andy Workman to end the game and avoid a major meltdown.
It was all Clinton for the majority of the night as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Ji-Man Choi delivered an RBI double in the first inning and an error by Yarbrough led to three runs in the second. Choi picked up his second run-scoring hit of the night in the inning.
They had a four-run sixth inning in which the first six batters reached. James Zamarripa smoked a triple to left center, scoring Jharmidy De Jesus and Anthony Phillips. Patrick Brady followed with a triple of his own to score Zamarripa and Chris Taylor singled to score Brady to give the LumberKings a 9-3 lead at the time.
The two teams meet again tonight as Clinton looks to win the four-game series. They send left-hander Jordan Shipers (4-4, 3.74) to the hill to face left-hander Ryan Crowley (1-2, 3.10) of Cedar Rapids. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.