CLINTON — After getting an offensive boost in the first inning, pitching carried the Clinton LumberKings the rest of the way home Monday night.

Five hurlers combined on a five-hitter as the LumberKings knocked off Kane County 2-1 at Alliant Energy Field.

The LumberKings scored all the runs they needed in the opening frame. Marcus Lemon led off with a single to right and Jose Vallejo followed with a walk.

Each runner moved up on John Whittleman’s groundout.

After Chad Tracy lined out for the second out, K.C. Herren followed with a hard ground ball to shortstop Michael Affronti, who mishandled the ball which allowed Lemon to score.

Vallejo went to third on the play and then broke for home. Affronti’s throw to the plate was off the mark and Vallejo slid in safely, making it a 2-0 game.

“Fortunately we took advantage of the error,” said Clinton manager Mike Micucci. “We knew coming in that (Scott) Deal is a tough pitcher. Once he gets rolling it’s hard to score runs off him, so getting a few early was huge.”

Winning pitcher Kasey Kiker (2-1), meanwhile, was mowing the Cougars down right and left.

In five innings of work, Kiker allowed just one hit — an infield single by Jermaine Mitchell in the fifth. The LumberKing finished with eight strikeouts.

“Kasey does a great job,” said Micucci. “He’s had three or four really good outings and a few that have been OK, but not up to his standards. It was good to see him bounce back, especially after pitching against these guys last time where he didn’t do so well. He was chomping at the bit.”

Jon Hollis and Tim Gudex combined to throw no-hit ball for Clinton over the next two innings, preserving the lead.

Clinton’s lone error of the game came in the seventh when center fielder David Paisano dropped a fly ball. Paisano redeemed himself later when he made a diving catch to end the frame.

Jeremiah Haar took the mound in the eighth and gave up a single before sitting the next three Cougars down.

It was a different story for Haar in the ninth, though.

Haas Pratt led off with a line-drive single to left, while Affronti and David Castillo followed with singles to left to load the bases.

Jose Marte then took the mound and got Greg Dowling to hit into a forceout, which allowed Pratt to score.

Marte then struck out Matthew Sulentic for the second out.

Samuel Hernandez followed with a hard lineout to first baseman Mauro Gomez to end the game, giving Marte his third save of the year.

Deal (3-5) suffered the loss despite throwing a solid game, giving up five hits over seven innings.

The win keeps Clinton on the heels of Midwest League Western Division leader Beloit. The Snappers have a 40-23 mark and are one game ahead of the LumberKings, who are 38-23.

Also in the first-half title hunt are Cedar Rapids (36-26) and Quad Cities (36-27).

“It’s pretty impressive how many teams are right up there,” said Micucci. “We feel like we’re playing pretty good ball, but we can’t gain any ground or separate ourselves from the others. It’s a credit to the division and how our guys are playing.”

Clinton and Kane County meet again tonight at Alliant Energy Field. Game time is 7 p.m.

LUMBERKINGS 2, COUGARS 1

KANE COUNTY CLINTON

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Massaro cf 4 0 0 0 Lemon ss 4 1 1 0

Cobb 2b 4 0 0 0 Vallejo 2b 3 1 0 0

Mitchell rf 4 0 1 0 Whttlmn 3b 4 0 0 0

Pratt 1b 2 1 1 0 Tracy lf 2 0 0 0

Affronti ss 4 0 1 0 Herren rf 4 0 0 0

Rosendo pr 0 0 0 0 Gomez 1b 4 0 2 0

Castillo c 4 0 1 0 Heafner dh 3 0 0 0

Valdez dh 2 0 0 0 Pina c 2 0 2 0

Dowling dh 2 0 0 1 Paisano cf 3 0 0 0

Sulentic lf 3 0 0 0

Hernandez 3b 3 0 1 0

Totals 32 1 5 1 Totals 29 2 5 0



Kane County 000 000 001 —1

Clinton 200 000 00x —2

E—Affronti, Hernandez, Paisano. DP—Kane County 2. LOB—Kane County 8, Clinton 7. 2B—Pina. CS—Mitchell.

IP H R ER BB SO

Kane County

Deal (L,3-5) 7 5 2 0 2 4

Fernandez 1 0 0 0 0 1

Clinton

Kiker (W,2-1) 5 1 0 0 3 8

Hollis 1 1/3 0 0 0 1 0

Gudex 2/3 0 0 0 0 0

Haar 1 4 1 1 0 1

Marte (Sv,3) 1 0 0 0 0 1

Haas faced 3 batters in the 9th.

HBP—Tracy (by Deal, Fernandez). Umpires—Hirabayashi, Alper. Time—2:29. Attendance—845.