CLINTON—With just one loss in their last seven games, the Clinton LumberKings completed a sweep of Cedar Rapids Friday night with a 6-3 win, staying strong as the wildcard race nears the end.
The playoff race between the top three teams in the Western Division is growing tighter as the Midwest League barrels toward the last games of the season. Clinton is holding steady two games behind Kane County, who lead the division. Three games behind Clinton sits Wisconsin, who is also vying for the wildcard and a trip to the playoffs, which start the first week of September.
Up until the sixth inning on Friday night, each time the Kernels pushed a run across the LumberKings had an answer, but Clinton never could find a way ahead, leaving it tied 3-3.
After recording two outs in the bottom of the sixth Kameron Misner kept his at-bats perfect with his third hit of the night. This one was a hard hit into centerfield to bring around Christopher Torres and lift the LumberKings ahead 4-3.
Even though they left two runners stranded, they had the go ahead run after a back and forth outing with the Kernels. And they held on to that.
They added some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. With no outs recorded, Misner drew a lead off walk off of reliever Nate Hadley. Will Banfield then broke his bat and sent a ball high in the air, watching it land in short right field between three separate Kernels, leaving runners at first and second.
Then it was Evan Edwards’ turn. After two called strikes, he sent a line drive screaming over the infield and into left center, easily bringing in Misner and leaving runners at the corners and no outs recorded, extending things to 5-3 in favor of the LumberKings.
Brayan Hernandez brought the lead to 6-3. Hernandez went to bunt off of the first pitch, sending a long bunt straight down the first base line. It was enough tome for Banfield to cross home plate before Hernandez was tagged out at first, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The final three outs came easily from closer Zach Wolf.
From the mound, starter Alberto Guerrero settled in pretty nicely minus two innings. He started the first inning off shaky with two consecutive walks, and his first hit allowed brought in one of those baserunners.
In the top of the third, Guerrero watched a pitch go sailing over the outfield wall for a two-run homer. Other than that, he had control and recorded six strikeouts through five and two thirds innings.
Cam Baird came in to relieve Guerrero in for the last out of the sixth inning, getting the LumberKings out of a two-man on base situation. He, Peyton Culbertson, and Zach Wolf finished the night unblemished.
Clinton stays at home throughout the rest of the weekend. They welcome the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who is the closes to them in the wildcard race, to NelsonCorp Field for a crucial, four-game series. That set kicks off on Saturday night.
Wisconsin 5, Kane County 2
BELOIT, Wis. — Nick Osborne hit a run-scoring double in the eighth inning, leading the Beloit Snappers to a 5-2 win over the Kane County Cougars on Friday. With the victory, the Snappers snapped a six-game losing streak.
The double by Osborne started the scoring in a four-run inning and tied the game 2-2. Later in the inning, Beloit took the lead when Osborne scored on a wild pitch and then added to it when Skyler Weber scored on an error and Santis Sanchez hit an RBI double.
The Cougars took a 2-1 lead when David Garza hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Zack Shannon in the fourth.
Joe DeMers (5-4) got the win with five innings of scoreless, three-hit relief while Bryan Menendez (0-2) took the loss in the Midwest League game.
Despite the loss, Kane County is 12-5 against Beloit this season.
Fort Wayne 7, Dayton 4
DAYTON, Ohio — Tucupita Marcano hit a run-scoring single in the first inning, leading the Fort Wayne TinCaps to a 7-4 win over the Dayton Dragons on Friday. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the TinCaps and a three-game winning streak for the Dragons.
Ethan Skender scored on the play to give the TinCaps a 1-0 lead after he reached base on a walk and stole second.
Trailing 7-1, the Dragons cut into the deficit in the ninth inning when Cameron Warren scored on a balk, Miles Gordon scored on a wild pitch and Michael Siani scored on a single.
Fort Wayne starter Adrian Martinez (6-4) picked up the win after allowing just four hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Opposing starter Clate Schmidt (1-1) took the tough loss in the Midwest League game after allowing two runs and three hits over six innings.
Siani doubled and singled twice, scoring two runs for the Dragons.
Bowling Green 3, Lake County 2
EASTLAKE, Ohio — Ruben Cardenas hit a two-run single in the ninth inning, leading the Bowling Green Hot Rods to a 3-2 win over the Lake County Captains on Friday. The Hot Rods swept the three-game series with the win.
The single by Cardenas scored Osmy Gregorio and Roberto Alvarez and was the game’s last scoring play.
In the top of the third, Bowling Green grabbed the lead on a single by Cardenas that scored Grant Witherspoon. Lake County answered in the fourth inning when Daniel Schneemann and Quentin Holmes hit sacrifice flies.
Hector Figueroa (1-1) got the win with three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief while Jake Miednik (2-1) took the loss in the Midwest League game.
Clark Scolamiero doubled and singled, also stealing two bases for the Captains.