Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON – The Clinton LumberKings picked up right where they left off from a 20-17 stunner over the Burlington Bees on Wednesday night in Midwest League baseball.
Back at Ashford University Field, the LumberKings not only scored first this time, they avoided any kind of deficitand won convincingly over the visiting Peoria Chiefs 4-0 on Thursday night.
After numerous player and coach interviews following Wednesday’s thriller – which has spread to the likes of ESPN, ABC, the Associated Press and CBS Seattle, among others – Clinton maintained focus in opening a 10-game homestand over 11 days.
The Chiefs, who were shut out in three straight games spanning Saturday, Sunday and Monday, couldn’t connect again Thursday against L’Kings right-hander Lars Huijer.
After playing 12 innings Wednesday night, using four relievers and an infielder in relief in Burlington, the LumberKings desperately needed a quality start from Huijer. They got it.
Huijer stifled the Chiefs batters through seven, three-hit, shutout innings. The right-hander induced two double-play ground balls, walked one, hit a batter and struck out two.
Peoria right-hander Silfredo Garcia (2-3) matched Huijer through three innings but allowed runs in each of the next three innings.
Clinton jumped in front 1-0 in the fourth behind the speed of Ian Miller. The leadoff man reached on a bunt single and sprinted to third after Peoria catcher Carson Kelly threw past first base to the Chiefs bullpen in right field. Moments later, Garcia uncorked the first of his two wild pitches, allowing Miller to score.
Clinton loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, but got only one run to go up 2-0. Miller slapped his second of three singles to left, scoring Corey Simpson from third. Justin Seager was thrown out at the plate to end the inning, but Clinton doubled its lead with two runs in the sixth. Burt Reynolds extended his hitting streak to 11 with a two-run triple, completing the scoring for both clubs.
Huijer entered in the seventh and allowed a leadoff single. The next batter, Kelly, drilled a liner back at Huijer off his right calf, sending the right-hander hobbling to foul territory. The ball caromed back to Marcus Littlewood, who finished the 1-2-3 putout. Huijer (2-1) stayed in the game and allowed another single but managed to escape on a flyout and groundout.
Thyago Vieira entered in the eighth and struck out four of the six batters he faced, completing the shutout.
The LumberKings now sit just one game back of second place in the MWL Western Division.
Clinton and Peoria meet for Game 2 of their three-game set at 6:30 p.m. today at Ashford University Field. Right-hander Edwin Diaz (1-1, 3.86 ERA) will go for the LumberKings and will be opposed by right-hander Blake McKnight (1-1, 6.63).