With a three-game lead in the Western Division standings entering play Sunday, the Clinton LumberKings are focused on taking care of their own business and that’s exactly what they did against Cedar Rapids.
Clinton pounded out 13 hits on its way to a 6-3 win at Ashford University Field on Sunday afternoon. The LumberKings also picked up a 4-2 win on Saturday for the weekend sweep.
In his Midwest League debut Sunday, left-hander Rusty Shellhorn turned in seven strong innings to win his first start with the LumberKings. The Mariners’ 31st round draft pick in 2012 allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings with three strikeouts.
The Kernels scored their two runs in the second and third inning on a pair of run-scoring base hits. Matt Scioscia delivered the first run in the second inning when he knocked in Gary Mitchell who doubled with one out. In the third, Kevin Moesquit singled to lead off the inning and scored three batters later when Zach Borenstein doubled to make it 2-0.
Clinton took the lead in the fourth inning when it rallied against Kernels’ starter Eswarlin Jimenez. An error by shortstop Eric Stamets started the inning and allowed Dan Paolini to reach. Ramon Morla launched a double off the wall in left-center field to bring home Paolini to make it 2-1. Jabari Blash followed with a double of his own to score Morla.
It was Blash’s second hit of the day at the time and the center fielder finished a perfect 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. After a Kevin Rivers groundout, Mike Dowd snuck a blooper down the right-field line to score Blash and make it 3-2 Clinton.
Dowd was at it again in the sixth inning with a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 4-2. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Rivers provided some insurance runs when he hit a two-run homer into the Lumber Lounge.
John Taylor worked a scoreless top of the eighth inning, but Clinton turned to David Colvin in the ninth and he struggled.
The right-hander hit Borenstein to lead off the inning and then allowed a single by Andy Workman. He got Gary Mitchell to fly out but then hit Scioscia to load the bases. Zach Wright plated the third Kernels run on a ground out for out number two. Frazier Hall pinch-hit for Trevor Hairgrove and promptly walked on four pitches to load the bases again.
For the second time in as many days, Clinton manager Eddie Menchaca summoned Stephen Shackleford for a one-out save. The LumberKings reliever delivered with his ninth save of the year when he got Moesquit to bounce to short to end the game. With the win, the LumberKings’ magic number for a playoff berth is 10 games and is 13 to win the division.
The two teams meet again on Monday night for game three of the four-game set. Clinton sends right-hander Jordan Pries (2-0, 3.27) to the mound
against Cedar Rapids right-hander Cam Bedrosian (3-10, 5.99) with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30.
On Saturday, The LumberKings used a pair of timely home runs in a 4-2 win.
Cedar Rapids broke a scoreless game when Borenstein doubled to score Hall in the top of the fourth inning. Clinton left four runners on base in the first four innings but came through in the fifth.
Anthony Phillips started the inning with a base hit up the middle and moved to third on David Villasuso’s double to left-center. With one out in the inning, Jamal Austin hit a roller to short to bring home Phillips, but Villasuso was gunned down trying to advance to third for the second out in the inning. The next pitch delivered by Ryan Crowley was hit for a two-run homer down the left-field line by Paolini to give Clinton a 3-1 lead.
Villasuso more than made up for the base-running blunder in the seventh inning when he launched a solo blast well beyond the left-field wall to give the LumberKings a 4-1 lead. It was Villasuso’s first home run with Clinton.
The Kernels picked up a single tally in the ninth inning when they put together a two-out rally. Kyle Hunter pitched the seventh and eighth inning with no issues and then retired the first two batters he faced in the final frame. Then Wright doubled and Moesquit singled to put runners at the corners with two outs.
Shackleford allowed a run-scoring single by Eric Stamets to make it 4-2 and retired Alex Yarbrough to end the game.
Seon-Gi Kim picked up the win for Clinton, his fourth of the year in six solid innings. Crowley was tagged with the loss to drop to 1-5 on the season.