Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON – The Clinton LumberKings thrilled a packed crowd at Ashford University Field with a 7-4 victory over the Burlington Bees on the Fourth of July. A five-run second inning for Clinton proved to be the difference as the LumberKings took the series opener.
Burlington took an early lead, but it did not last long. After the Bees scored twice in the top of the second, Clinton responded with a five-run frame.
Gaby Guerrero, Tim Lopes and Martin Peguero delivered three consecutive RBI singles to give the LumberKings the lead. Jabari Henry kept the party going with a two-run home run that smashed off the scoreboard in left-center. Henry’s seventh home run of the year pushed the Clinton lead to 5-2.
The LumberKings and Bees traded runs in the third inning. Guerrero collected another RBI, this one on a sacrifice fly, to regain a three-run advantage for Clinton.
Second baseman Lopes single-handedly added to the LumberKings’ lead in the fifth. After a leadoff single, Lopes stole both second and third bases. Then, Lopes scampered home on a passed ball to make it a 7-3 Clinton lead.
The Bees scored once in the seventh, but the game was all in hand for the LumberKings. Jochi Ogando finished off the victory with two scoreless innings for his second save. Charles Kaalekahi earned his second win, as he gave a solid five innings. Nic DellaTorre suffered a loss in his Midwest League debut for Burlington.
The win came one day after Quad Cities completed a five-game sweep of the LumberKings with a 1-0 shutout at Modern Woodmen Park. The LumberKings were limited to three hits as they were swept for the second time this season.
Tyler Pike and Vincent Velasquez were fantastic in the start for both clubs. Pike had little trouble with the River Bandits’ lineup, giving up three hits in six scoreless innings. On the other side, Velasquez retired the first 12 batters he faced. However, neither pitcher factored into the decision as they departed in a scoreless tie through six innings.
The LumberKings had their best opportunity to score off Velasquez in the fifth. Taylor Ard led the inning with a walk, the first Clinton baserunner of the game. With two outs, Guerrero singled andLopes drew a walk to load the bases. Velasquez buckled down and retired Peguero on a fly out to center to end the inning.
The River Bandits got on the board in the seventh. With Richard Vargas on the mound, Terrell Joyce reached on a throwing error by Ketel Marte to start the inning. After Joyce advanced to third on groundouts, a walk set up runners on the corners. Vargas committed a balk by faking to third and throwing to first, a move outlawed over the past offseason. The balk allowed Joyce to score the only run of the game.
Clinton threatened in the ninth, getting the tying run to third base but no farther. Marte singled and Dario Pizzano walked to put the tying run in scoring position. Chia-Jen Lo induced back-to-back bounce outs from Ard and Marlette to end the game.
The LumberKings conclude the quick two-game series with Burlington at 7 tonight contest. Clinton sends right-hander Victor Sanchez (1-3, 2.62 ERA) to the mound, while Burlington turns to right-hander Reid Scoggins (1-4, 3.86).