SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
The Clinton Herald
---- — CEDAR RAPIDS – It’s not the start the Clinton LumberKings wanted.
Clinton dropped its season opener on the road Thursday evening at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids, losing on a 10th inning walk-off solo home run by Kernels first baseman Bryan Haar.
Kernels reliever Hudson Boyd (1-0) picked up the win with two shutout innings while LumberKings’ right-hander Ramire Cleto (0-1) was taxed with the loss after allowing Haar’s tenth-inning blast.
The LumberKings scored the first run of the game in the top of the first playing small ball. Leadoff hitter Aaron Barbosa reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a Marcus Littlewood 4-3 groundout, and raced home on an Austin Wilson RBI groundout.
Clinton added another single tally in the third inning. Jack Reinheimer singled to right, and after Wilson was hit by pitch, came into score on a Tyler O’Neill RBI single to right-center.
O’Neill’s RBI knock was the only hit for Clinton with runners in scoring position for the rest of the night. The LumberKings stranded a RISP in nine of the 10 innings, going 1-for-17 as a team, and left a total of 13 men on base. Clinton left the bases loaded in the third and seventh innings, and could not scratch across the go-ahead run with runners at second and third base with one out in the tenth.
Hitting with RISP wasn’t just difficult for the LumberKings, however. It was equally as tough for the Kernels. Cedar Rapids stranded nine men on base and went 1-for-10 with RISP.
The Kernels knotted the game with two runs in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Joel Licon and Zach Larson started the inning to make it 2-1 in favor of Clinton. Larson moved to third on Edwin Diaz’s lone wild pitch of the night, and one out later scored on Haar’s sacrifice fly.
The score remained 2-2 until the home half of seventh. Engelb Vielma tucked a sharp ground ball inside first base all the way to the right field corner and sprinted to third for a triple. One out later, Vielma tagged and scored on a Zack Granite sacrifice fly to left.
Their lead didn’t last long.
Clinton tied the game at three in the eighth inning thanks to Vielma’s second throwing error – and the Kernels’ fifth of the game – before Haar’s tenth-inning heroics.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Clinton’s Diaz lasted 4.2 innings and allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits and two walks. He struck out five in his Midwest League debut. Kernels right-hander Aaron Slegers threw five innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs. Slegers also matched Diaz with five punchouts.
Reinheimer, O’Neill, and Justin Seager – younger brother of Seattle’s Kyle Seager – each collected two hits apiece.
On Friday, the LumberKings send left-hander Eddie Campbell to the mound in game two of the series against Kernels southpaw Randy Rosario. First pitch from Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium is set for 6:35 CT.