CLINTON — It’s just four games into the Midwest League’s second half, and already the Clinton LumberKings are somewhere they haven’t been all season.

For the first time in 2006, Clinton is two games over .500 following Sunday’s 5-4 victory over Southwest Michigan at Alliant Energy Field.

The win pushes Clinton to a 3-1 record with the sweep, putting them in a first-place tie in the Western Division standings.

“Going 3-1 in this series is huge, especially coming off a half we’re not real happy with in terms of wins and losses,” said Clinton skipper Andy Fox, referring to the team’s record of 23-46 in the first half. “It’s a big confidence builder for the guys in the clubhouse. They’re saying ‘What we’re doing is working and we can get results from it.’”

Three Clinton pitchers combined on a seven-hitter Sunday, while the defense played near-flawless ball.

“I don’t care what level you’re at, but pitching and defense are what gets wins,” said Fox. “That’s what we’ve done the last three nights. We get those things to keep us in the game, and then we get the hits when we need them to help us win it.”

The LumberKings grabbed a 2-0 lead through two innings, scoring once in both the first and second.

In the first, Terry Blunt ripped a double down the third-base line and scored when Freddie Thon reached base on an error by the shortstop.

With one out in the second, Brian Valichka delivered a homer over the left-center field fence.

Southwest Michigan answered with a run in the top of the third on Hunter Vick’s line single to center, making it 2-1.

But the LumberKings answered with a run in the fifth. With one out, Jose Vallejo reached base on an error on a high throw to first.

David Peterson followed with a bouncer into left field and Blunt singled on a ball that worked its way into left field, loading the bases.

Thon followed with a sacrifice fly to left.

Southwest Michigan tied it with two runs in the top of the seventh, one coming when Jackson Brennan hit into a forceout and the other when Neil Walton singled to right.

But Clinton came right back, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame to go up 5-3.

Vallejo singled to left and moved to second on Peterson’s bunt single, but was thrown out when Blunt bunted into a forceout.

Thon then belted a two-run double to center. His 33 RBIs lead the team.

Southwest Michigan stayed in the hunt, though, scoring once in the top of the eighth when Cesar Suarez doubled to left, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Devins’ groundout.

However, Clinton pitcher J.B. Diaz got out of the inning and Josh Giles pitched a hitless ninth while fanning two to earn his first save.

Starter Kyle Rogers (1-4) picked up his first win of the year. He worked seven innings, gave up six hits and struck out four.

Mike Wlodarczyk (6-5) was tagged with the loss.

On Saturday, Clinton blasted Southwest Michigan 6-2.

All the scoring was the results of homers. In the fourth, John Whittleman hit a round-tripper to right that scored John Mayberry and Joe Kemp. Both had reached on singles.

It was Whittleman’s first homer of the year.

In the sixth, Mayberry hit a solo homer to right with one out. It was his ninth round-tripper of the season.

Jake Rasner (4-8) pitched a solid game, going eight innings, giving up three hits and fanning four.

Jose Marte tossed a hitless ninth to complete the win.

Wade Davis (4-5) suffered the loss for the Devil Rays, whose only runs of the game came in the seventh.

Clinton has another home series starting tonight, with Quad Cities coming to town for three dates.

All three games begin at 7 p.m.

“We’re just trying to develop some consistency now,” said Fox. “I’d like to see us put together a stretch of 10 or 15 games of playing consistent baseball.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

LUMBERKINGS 5, DEVIL RAYS

SW MICHIGAN CLINTON

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Suarez 3b 4 1 1 0 Vallejo 2b 5 1 1 0

Jamieson 1b 4 0 1 0 Peterson 3b 4 1 3 0

Hall lf 2 0 0 0 Blunt lf 4 2 3 0

Devins 2b 2 1 1 1 Thon 1b 3 0 1 3

Groce rf 4 1 1 0 Mayberry rf 4 0 1 0

Hughes dh 4 0 0 0 Crabtree dh 4 0 0 0

Lopez c 3 0 0 0 Kemp cf 4 0 0 0

Brennan cf 4 1 1 1 Valichka c 4 1 3 1

Walton ss 3 0 1 1 Smith ss 4 0 0 0

Vick 2b 3 0 1 1

Totals 33 4 7 4 Totals 36 5 12 4



SW Michigan 001 000 210 —4

Clinton 110 010 20x —5

E—Suarez, Walton, Peterson. DP—SW Michigan, Clinton 1. LOB—SW Michigan 3, Clinton 8. 2B—Brennan, Suarez, Blunt, Valichka, Thon. HR—Valichka (5). SB—Vick (2). CS—Groce. SF—Thon.

IP H R ER BB SO

SW Michigan

Wlodarczyk (L,6-5) 7 11 5 3 0 1

Walker 1 1 0 0 0 1

Clinton

Rogers (W,1-4) 7 6 3 3 1 4

Diaz 1 1 1 1 0 0

Giles (Sv,1) 1 0 0 0 0 2

WP—Walker, Rogers, Diaz. Umpires—Fagan, Boykins. Time—2:10. Attendance—1,593.

SATURDAY’S GAME

LUMBERKINGS 5, DEVIL RAYS

SW MICHIGAN CLINTON

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Brennan cf 4 0 0 0 Vallejo 2b 4 0 0 0

Jamieson dh 1 1 0 0 Smith ss 4 1 1 0

Hall lf 3 1 0 0 Mehl cf 2 1 0 0

Groce rf 3 0 1 0 Thon 1b 4 0 1 2

Hughes 1b 4 0 2 2 Mayberry rf 4 2 2 1

Lopez c 4 0 0 0 Herren dh 4 0 1 0

Walton ss 3 0 0 0 Kemp lf 3 1 2 0

Vick 3b 3 0 0 0 Whttlmn 3b 3 1 1 3

Devins 2b 3 0 0 0 Crabtree c 3 0 2 0

Totals 28 2 3 2 Totals 31 6 10 6



SW Michigan 000 000 200 —2

Clinton 000 301 02x —6

E—Hughes, Evers. DP—SW Michigan 1, Clinton 1. LOB—SW Michigan 4, Clinton 4. 2B—Hughes, Crabtree, Thon. HR—Whittleman (1), Mayberry (9). SB—Groce (18), Mayberry (2), Kemp (5). CS—Hall, Kemp, Herren. S—Mehl.

IP H R ER BB SO

SW Michigan

Davis (L,4-5) 5 5 3 3 2 7

Kamrath 1 3 1 1 0 0

Bigda 1 1 0 0 0 0

Evers 1 1 2 0 0 2

Clinton

Rasner (W,4-8) 8 3 2 2 2 4

Marte 1 0 0 0 2 1

HBP—Jamieson (by Rasner). Umpires—Boykins, Fagan. Time—2:25. Attendance—1,098.

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