CLINTON — After allowing the South Bend Cubs to break a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning, the Clinton LumberKings needed to respond in a big way. It didn't take them long, as four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning gave them the lead for good.
Clinton held South Bend scoreless over the last two innings, winning the game 4-2 and taking the series 2-1.
The LumberKings and Cubs went blow-for-blow in the early stages of the game.
Luiz Gohara and Kyle Miller threw up zeroes through the first four innings. However, the Cubs would scratch across the first runs of the ballgame against Gohara in the top of the fifth inning. Andrew Monasterio singled with one out, and Gohara then lost command of the zone against Josh Silver, walking him on five pitches. He would then have to deal with lefty Bryant Flete.
Gohara went 3-1 on Flete, and then dealt him an inside fastball, which he proceeded to rip down the first base line. Both runners scored, and Flete ended up at third with a triple, giving South Bend the 2-0 lead.
However, the LumberKings responded right back against Miller in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ricky Eusebio started the inning with a hot shot to first that deflected up and over the head of Cubs first baseman Josh Silver and into right field for a hit. James Alfonso stepped in next, and he roped one down the first base line for a hit, moving Eusebio to third.
Rayder Ascanio then grounded on through the hole between first and second for a hit, scoring Eusebio to cut the deficit in half. Luis Liberato then sacrificed Alfonso to third and Ascanio to second, setting up Rafael Fernandez.
Miller worked him away, and Fernandez hit a bleeder into shallow left, plating Alfonso to tie the game while moving Ascanio to third.
Dalton Kelly stepped in next, and the LumberKings would take the lead on a wacky play.
Rafael Fernandez broke for second, but paused in the baseline to try and draw Ascanio home. Shortstop Andruw Monasterio had the ball, and as soon as he saw Ascanio break home, he threw the ball there. A good throw would have gotten Ascanio, but it sailed high and to the backstop, giving Clinton the 3-2 and moving Fernandez all the way to third. Kelly then hit a fly ball to center field, deep enough to score Fernandez to extend the lead to 4-2.
Lukas Schiraldi entered for the LumberKings in the seventh, and in his two innings of work, struck out five of the six men he faced. Spencer Herrmann pitched a perfect ninth, earning his third save of the season.