BURLINGTON — Never count out the Clinton LumberKings.
In one of the most remarkable comebacks in minor league baseball history, the LumberKings overcame a 16-run sixth-inning deficit to stun the Burlington Bees 20-17 in Midwest League action Wednesday night at Community Field in Burlington.
A seven-run second and nine-run fifth helped Burlington (16-15) to a 17-1 lead. The 16-run deficit, the largest of the season for the LumberKings, appeared to be the end of a still positive road trip that spanned three cities. But Clinton (16-15) scored the final 19 runs to steal the series finale from the Bees.
“It was just amazing that these guys never quit,” manager Scott Steinmann said once the team returned to Clinton early this morning. “All of a sudden we score, and I look over at the dugout, and they’re thinking they have a chance to win this. It was a World Series kind of feeling that we won.
“It was just fun and really interesting to be a part of something like that,” Steinmann said. “They don’t get it that they were down, and that’s a testament to their character and how much they care about winning games.”
With the score tied 17-17 in the top of the 12th, Burlington’s sixth pitcher, Trevor Foss, allowed a one-out double to Jeff Zimmerman and a base hit to Joe DeCarlo before he walked Burt Reynolds to load the bases. Justin Seager grounded out to third, but Bees third baseman Ismael Dionicio had to go over to first to retire Seager, as Zimmerman scored the go-ahead run from third. Clinton added two more off Foss, as Lonnie Kauppilla singled home DeCarlo and Reynolds for the 20-17 advantage.
Kauppila, who had three hits on the night, was called to the mound for the 12th. Kauppila, who had never pitched professionally, retired the Bees in order in the 12th, as he picked up his first career save.