The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

June 18, 2012

LumberKings close first half with loss

PEORIA, Ill. —  With nothing at stake, the Midwest League decided there was no reason for Clinton and Peoria to finish their baseball game that was suspended by rain Saturday night.

Instead, the teams closed the first half of the season with a single, nine-inning game Sunday.

The result was all-too-familiar for the LumberKings. Their first-half record, the worst in the league (23-45), got a little worse with a 10-5 setback to the Chiefs at O’Brien Field. It’s the second year in a row that Clinton compiled the worst first-half record in the league.

The final margin was a bit misleading, too. Peoria scored three runs in the first inning and built a 10-0 lead before the LumberKings chipped away and narrowed the gap to five runs.

Peoria scored in bunches, putting together three-run innings in the first, fourth and fifth.

The Chiefs wasted little time getting to Clinton starter Brett Shankin.

Pin-Chieh Chen singled with one out in the first inning, stole second base, advanced to third on catch Michael Dowd’s throwing error on the play and scored on a single by Dustin Geiger. Paul Hoilman followed with his sixth home run of the year.

Chen was it again in the third, leading off with a single and stealing second before eventually scoring on a single by Javier Baez.

The Chiefs knocked Shankin out of the game an inning later.

Sergio Burruel doubled, went to third on Oliver Zapata’s single and scored on a single by Zeke DeVoss. Chen grounded out, advanced both runners a base, and both of them scored on Hoilman’s double to center field with two outs.

John Taylor replaced Shankin and got the final out of the inning, but the Chiefs got to him in the fifth.

Baez was hit by a pitch, then Taylor committed a throwing error trying for a force on a ball hit by Yasiel Balaguert. Burruel singled to load the bases, and Zapata followed with a two-run double to center field. The final run scored on Chen’s sacrifice fly.

Held to three hits and a hit batter — all of which came with one out — over the first five innings by Peoria starter Michael Jensen, Clinton finally strung together some offense in the sixth.

Ji-Man Choi and Ramon Morla hit one-out singles, and each moved up on a wild pitch by Jensen. Choi scored on Dowd’s groundout, and Morla crossed the plate when Patrick Brady doubled.

Morla added an RBI single in the seventh and doubled in two runs with two outs in the ninth to complete the scoring.

The LumberKings led 5-2 when Saturday’s game was called by rain, although the Chiefs had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth inning.

Teams now have a four-day break before the second half of the season begins.

Three LumberKings will spend part of their break in Geneva, Ill., at the Midwest League All-Star Game. Outfielder Jamal Austin, who finished the first half with a .285 batting average and 24 stolen bases in 32 attempts, and pitchers Jordan Shipers (2-3, 3.75 ERA in 13 starts) and Tim Griffin (3-1, 2.78, with one save in 17 relief appearances) will represent Clinton in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game hosted by Kane County at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The LumberKings start the second half with a six-game homestand, beginning with a 7 p.m. game Friday against Kane County.

 

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