CLINTON — Two days after winning a game with a pair of two-run home runs in one inning, the Clinton LumberKings were on the other side of such a game Sunday.
Other than those two bad pitches, though, it wasn’t such a bad weekend for the LumberKings. After opening their three-game series against Bowling Green on Saturday with a 7-6 win, they lost 5-0 on Sunday at Ashford University Field.
“That was essentially the name of the ballgame,” Clinton Manager David Macias said, referring to the home runs. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of some opportunities we had offensively. That was the other side of the game that wasn’t on our side.”
Nick Wells returned to the mound for the first time since late June and was locked in a 1-0 duel against Bowling Green starter Adrian Navas when Garrett Whitley ended his day with one out in the fifth inning with the Hot Rods’ first home run.
Three batters later, Michael Brosseau made it 5-0 with his two-run shot off Steven Moyers.
Wells (3-7), on a restricted pitch count as he came back from an ailing back, pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks.
“I thought he looked pretty good,” Macias said of Wells. “I was pleasantly surprised for him coming back after 16 days or whatever off. That’s something pretty positive he can build upon.”
Moyers settled down after the rough start and surrendered just four hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.
“It’s huge,” Macias said of Moyers’ performance, “and he’s done that all season. He’s very valuable for us. If you see what he did, it’s very valuable for our bullpen.”
The biggest problem Sunday was Clinton just couldn’t do much against Navas and reliever Peter Bayer.
Navas (7-8) allowed four hits and one walk over seven innings with seven strikeouts. Bayer went the final two innings.
Clinton had a threat going against Bayer in the eighth, but he pitched out of it.
The LumberKings loaded the bases with one out when Bryson Brigman walked, Luis Rengifo doubled and Yojhan Quevedo was hit by a pitch. But Bayer struck out Ryan Scott looking at three consecutive strikes and then fanned Gareth Morgan to get out of trouble.
“Regardless of whether runners are on base or not, strikeouts don’t really help an offense,” Macias said. “There’s not pressure put on the defense.
“You make it more hurtful — bases loaded striking out is not what we want — but it’s baseball.”
Macias liked what he saw Saturday when the LumberKings battled back after giving up the lead and then holding off the Hot Rods for the one-run win.
“Obviously, any time we get a win it’s a positive,” he said. “Besides the wins, there still are things we can improve on. But it’s a good thing when you’re winning games like that. It means guys are picking each other up with big hits, like the home runs, and means pitichers are pitching out of jams ... like Brandon Miller did.”
Miller lost an early lead but wound up going six innings to earn his ninth win of the season.
“To kind of get punched in the mouth the first couple of innings and then go back and give you five, six innings, that’s a huge testament to their toughness and their willingness to help the team,” Macias said.
Morgan, whose two-run home run in the second inning gave Clinton an early lead, delivered a sacrifice fly in the third to give the LumberKings the lead they never lost.
Bowling Green had gone ahead with three runs in the top of the third, but Clinton matched that in the bottom half.
Rengifo started the rally with a one-out double. Quevedo followed with an infield hit, then Scott’s double scored Rengifo with the tying run and moved Quevedo to third. Quevedo scored on Morgan’s fly ball, then Nick Zammarelli doubled to score Scott and make it 5-3.
The Hot Rods pulled to within 5-4 in the fourth, but Clinton scored single runs in the sixth and eighth innings and then withstood a two-run Bowling Green rally in the ninth.
Clinton closes its homestand with an 11 a.m. game today before using Tuesday as a travel day before a three-game series at Fort Wayne starts Wednesday.