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Clinton’s Ramon Morla connects for a first-inning double. Morla’s hit was followed by a two-run single by Jharmidy De Jesus that started the LumberKings on their way to a 5-2 victory over Beloit on Thursday night in Midwest League baseball action at Ashford University Field.

Kurt Ritzman/Clinton Herald
Assistant Sports Editor

Clinton stopped a three-game losing streak Thursday with some strong pitching and by striking early on offense.

In their return to Ashford University Field, the LumberKings defeated Beloit 5-2 behind a good start from Stephen Landazuri.

“He was outstanding,” Clinton manager Eddie Menchaca said. “He had a great tempo and was pounding the strike zone. He attacked the hitters and set the tone for the team.”

Landazuri, who allowed only three baserunners through the first four innings, said his goal was to attack the hitters.

“In the first game of the series, I wanted to establish the inside fastball to set up the relievers and the rest of the series,” he said. “I think my tempo was the biggest thing. I really worked on it in spring training. I don’t waste time. I get the ball back and go after it.”

After not getting a hit until the sixth inning Wednesday, the LumberKing offense got right to work in the series opener.

“Last night (in a 3-1 loss at Cedar Rapids) we hit the ball hard but right at people,” Menchaca said. “It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But it was good to bounce back and set the tone.”

It took one batter for Clinton to get its first hit, as Jamal Austin led off the bottom of the first inning with a single.

“I think it started the game on a good note,” Austin said.

After Beloit starting pitcher Steven Gruver retired the next two batters, Ramon Morla doubled to right field, advancing Austin to third. Jharmidy De Jesus followed with a two-run single.

The LumberKings continued to strike, adding two more runs in the second inning. Steven Baron doubled to lead off the inning. Alfredo Morales singled, and Anthony Phillips walked to load the bases. Austin hit an RBI single to score Baron, and Morales scored on a wild pitch.

“I didn’t want to let the team down,” Austin said. “With the bases loaded, I wanted to at least put the ball in play. He threw me a cutter or a slider and it hung. I hit it right up the middle.”

Baron doubled again in the third inning, advanced to third on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Phillips to put the LumberKings ahead 5-0.

“Our situational hitting was outstanding,” Menchaca said. “When we had a guy in scoring position, we found a way to get him in.”

That was plenty of runs for the Clinton pitching staff.

“It’s a big confidence booster to pitch when your team is winning,” Landazuri said. “You still have to go after the hitters like it’s tied, but you know one mistake won’t kill you.”

Beloit got on the board against the LumberKings in the top of the sixth inning. Jhon Goncalves hit a one-out double off Landazuri. After an out and a walk, Danny Ortiz singled between the shortstop and third baseman to score Goncalves. That was the first run Landazuri allowed in more than nine innings to start the season.

Tim Griffin then entered in relief for Clinton and walked Tyler Grimes to load the bases. Griffin struck out Matt Koch swinging, but the pitch was wild and allowed Miguel Sano to score and Koch to reach first base.

Adam Bryant, the next Snappers to bat, hit a blooper to center field that Austin made a diving catch on to end the inning and the threat.

“I felt like I got a little bit of a bad jump,” Austin said. “But I ran hard and ended up catching it. I wanted to help my pitcher.”

Austin said the win, which improved the LumberKings to 2-5, was a good step forward.

“It boosts our confidence,” he said. “We know if we keep working hard and having good practices, it will all work out.”

The LumberKings continue the four-game series tonight with a 6:30 game.

LUMBERKINGS 5, SNAPPERS 2

Beloit    ab    h    r    bi    Clinton    ab    h    r    bi

Williams rf    3    0    0    0    Austin cf    5    2    1    1

Goncalves cf    4    1    1    0    Paolini 2b    5    1    0    0

Rosario 2b    4    0    0    0    Blash dh    3    0    0    0

Sano 3b    1    0    1    0    Morla 3b    3    1    1    0

Ortiz dh    4    1    0    1    De Jesus 1b    4    1    0    2

Grimes ss    1    0    0    0    Pimentel lf    4    0    0    0

Koch c    4    0    0    0    Baron c    4    2    2    0

Bryant 1b    4    2    0    0    Morales rf    4    2    1    0

Lin lf    4    0    0    0    Phillips ss    1    0    0    1

Totals    29    4    2    2    Totals    33    9    5    4

Beloit    000    002    000    —    2

Clinton    221    000    00x    —    5

E — Austin, Sano, Grimes. DP — Clinton 2. LOB — Beloit 7, Clinton 9. 2B — Morla, Baron 2, Goncalves. SF — Phillips. S — Phillips. SB — Morla.

    IP    H    R    ER    K    BB

 Beloit

Gruver L, 0-1    3    7    5    4    2    2

Achter    3    1    0    0    4    0

Tonkin    1    0    0    0    1    0

Carter    1    1    0    0    0    0

 Clinton

Landazuri W, 1-0    5 2⁄3    4    2    2    7    3

Griffin    2 1⁄3    0    0    0    1    2

Taylor S, 1    1    0    0    0    0    0    

WP — Gruver, Griffin. HBP — Morla (by Achter); Grimes (by Landazuri). U — John Liba (hp); Alex Tosi (b). T — 2:28. A — 536.

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