CLINTON - The Clinton pitching staff put up a phenomenal performance despite less than ideal weather, but the offense wasn't there to support them on Wednesday afternoon. The LumberKings dropped their second of the series 2-0 in the series finale, losing the series 2-1.
It was the epitome of a pitchers' duel for the first six innings, with both Clinton's George Soriano and Beloit's Daniel Martinez stringing together near perfect starts.
The game was both scoreless and hitless through the first five innings. Martinez was the firs to crack, when Clinton's Marcos Rivera sent a grounder right past third base and into the outfield for a double. Although Rivera wouldn't score, it was enough to end Martinez's outing with one hit and five strikeouts.
Soriano kept his perfect game going all the way through six innings. It was even more impressive considering the sub-60 degree weather, wind and on-and-off rain.
"That's what happens when you throw strikes," manager Mike Jacobs said. "Outstanding job by him."
Plus, the LumberKings cleaned up their defense to help him out. They had a whopping 11 errors in the last series, and had two in each of the first games against Beloit.
"Defense was much better today," Jacobs said. "We talked about it the other day and hopefully because of that they'll continue to concentrate and continue to get batter."
The perfect game was soiled in the seventh inning. A leadoff single landed in short center field and then Soriano walked a man, effectively ending his outing.
The two runners scored on a double off of Nathan Alexander to give the Snappers their 2-0 lead, one they wouldn't relinquish.
The LumberKings had their chances. In the bottom of the seventh, Bubba Hollins hit his own lead off single, followed up by consecutive walks to Jerar Encarnacion and Sean Reynolds. Even with bases loaded, they couldn't push a runner across home plate.
In fact, they recorded three straight Ks instead.
"It's one of those things, the first guy strikes out and the next guy gets up there and put a little more pressure on themselves," Jacobs said. "We have to have some guys put the ball in play.
"It's still obviously early and guys are still trying to find their way. I thought we swung the bat pretty well this series. As it starts rolling, some of these balls the guys are lining up will start falling."
Coming off of their first series sweep, the LumberKings were looking to continue their winning streak and win their third series in a row.
The first game ended both of those goals, with a loss 5-4 loss to the Snappers. Even though Clinton recorded four more hits than Beloit, they lost the contest after allowing four runs in the eighth inning.
They did manage to even up the series with a big comeback win on Tuesday afternoon. They once again allowed four runs but this time in the fourth inning. They put up their own five over the next nine innings and ended with the 5-4 lead.
The LumberKings continue to be a strikeout heavy team. They have the lowest batting average in the league and the most strikeouts, recording 216 so far this year. The closest teams to that number are Dayton and Burlington with 188 a piece.
On that note, the LumberKings are aggressive at the plate for a reason. They are tied for the most homeruns in the league (17) right now, partly because ...
There are a number of LumberKings who have been heating up at the plate in the last two series, including Sean Reynolds. Reynolds walked into the Wisconsin series with a .049 batting average. He's more than tripled that since then, and recorded his first two homers of the year in the first two games against Beloit.
"It's getting acclimated," Reynolds said. "The cold doesn't help, but that's not an excuse. It's getting comfortable, new environment, new league."
He isn't the only one, either. Will Banfield has warmed up over the last two series, and Conner Scott is back in the lineup. The LumberKings are making contact, even if they aren't all falling.
"We're a confident bunch, honestly," Reynolds said. "We know from top to bottom, there's really no hole in our lineup. That's kind of the key, if you're not getting it done there's someone in the lineup who can."
KIDS, KIDS, KIDS
The Tuesday and Wednesday games were school days at LumberKings Stadium. Each day the stands were packed with students from around the area.
It offered a different kind of atmosphere for the LumberKings games. The music and sounds were geared towards the audience and the students played along. They were enthusiastic over each and every LumberKings play.
The LumberKings signed autographs for a number of children who were still in attendance after the game ended as well.
The LumberKings open up a bit of an abnormal series with the Quad Cities on Thursday. The series opener, originally scheduled to take place at Modern Woodman Park, has been moved to LumberKings Stadium at 1 p.m. The remainder of the series moves to the Quad Cities.
The Friday night game will happen as scheduled, then the Saturday edition of baseball will include a day-night double header. The entire series will conclude on Sunday afternoon.
"Its going to be a little tricky," skipper Mike Jacobs said. "We'll get back on track and focus, continue to win series."