Special to the Herald
CLINTON – Clinton will try to finish off a series sweep tonight when it entertains Cedar Rapids in a 7 o’clock Midwest League baseball game at Ashford University Field.
The LumberKings won the series opener 6-5 in 11 innings Saturday night, then rolled to a 5-3 win Sunday.
The bottom three of the batting order — Gaby Guerrero, Tim Lopes and Martin Peguero — combined for seven hits, two runs scored and four RBIs to back Scott DeCecco’s pitching Sunday.
Clinton got on the scoreboard in the second inning when Marcus Littlewood started the frame with a double. Jordy Lara walked, and both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch from Mason Melotakis. Guerrero hit a fly ball to center, deep enough to score Littlewood to give Clinton a 1-0 lead.
Lopes followed with a single through the right side, scoring Lara from second, extending the lead to 2-0.
In the third, Janelfry Zorrila reached on an error by third baseman Niko Goodrum to start the inning. It came back to hurt the Kernels as Littlewood delivered a two-out, run-scoring base hit.
The bottom three continued to hurt Melotakis as Guerrero and Lopes had back-to-back singles to start the fourth. Peguero followed with a scorching double down the left-field line to score both and give Clinton a 5-0 lead.
With the offense rolling, DeCecco went into cruise control. Before the seventh inning, no Cedar Rapids player made it to third base. They finally got to the left-hander in the seventh inning when Joel Licon doubled down the left-field line, scoring Tyler Grimes from first.
Richard Vargas was summoned for the eighth inning and struggled. After getting two quick outs, Vargas allowed consecutive hits by Jorge Polanco, Dalton Hicks and Adam Brett Walker. Cedar Rapids scored two in the inning to trim the lead to 5-3.
Reliever Cameron Copping came in for the ninth and put out the fire. The right-hander hit Grimes to start the inning but then got a 6-4-3 double play. After Jonathan Murphy followed with a single, he got J.D. Williams to ground out to end the game. The save was Copping’s first with Clinton, and the win was DeCecco’s sixth of the year.
The trio of Peguero, Lopes and Guerrero were the late heroes Saturday, too, as Peguero drove home Guerrero for the winning run in the 11th inning.
Guerrero started the inning with an infield single. Lopes laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Guerrero into scoring position, and Peguero flared a sinking line drive into left field, bringing Guerrero home for the 6-5 win.
Lara hit a two-run double in the fourth for a 2-1 lead, but the LumberKings’ defense hurt them early, leading to a pair of unearned runs. Two errors in the third helped the Kernels open the scoring in the third inning. In the fifth, Cedar Rapids scored another unearned run off Matt Anderson when Jonathan Murphy stole second, and the throw went into center field and past Janelfry Zorrilla. Murphy scored on the play with the two-base error.
Clinton re-established their lead in the sixth and seven innings. Guerrero, who collected four hits on the day, had an RBI single in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. Dario Pizzano drove home two more in the seventh to push the LumberKings’ lead to 5-2.
Clinton starter Matt Anderson departed in line for his fifth win, working a career-high seven innings and allowing just three hits and two runs, both unearned. He matched another career-high with seven strikeouts.
But, the bullpen could not hold the lead for Anderson. Blake Holovach allowed the first five batters to reach in the eighth. Oliver Garcia escaped the jam, but not before the Kernels tied the game at five runs apiece. Garcia wound up the winner, though, with four scoreless innings after that.