Beloit, WI - The LumberKings' magical run in 2012 continued by advancing to the Western Division Finals with a 10-inning, 4-1 win over the Beloit Snappers on Friday night at Pohlman Field.
On a cool, wet night in southern Wisconsin, pitching was key and Clinton had Mayckol Guaipe and Stephen Landazuri to combat the Snappers' potent offense.
Guaipe, who went 5-0 during the regular season, worked seven strong innings as he limited Beloit to just one run on two hits to go along with five strikeouts. Landazuri, the 20-year-old right-hander from California, pitched the final three innings to pick up the win in relief.
Dillon Hazlett got the LumberKings off to a good start by leading off the game with a base hit up the middle. After Beloit starter David Hurlbut retired the next two batters, Hazlett moved to third on Tyler Grimes' error. Hurlbut uncorked a wild pitch to Ramon Morla and Hazlett scored to give Clinton a 1-0 lead.
All series, the Beloit offense had answers when Clinton scored and it looked the same on Friday. With two down in the bottom of the first inning, Eddie Rosario singled and then raced around to score on Miguel Sano's wall-banging double to right field.
The scored remained 1-1 throughout nine innings. Both teams had opportunities to score as Clinton was 1-8 with runners in scoring position and Beloit was 0-4. For the second consecutive night, Beloit had the possible winning run of the series at third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning but couldn't get the bit hit. Landazuri got shortstop Stephen Wickens to ground out with JD Williams on third to send the game into extras on Friday.
With the scored tied 1-1, Guillermo Pimentel hit a 3-2 fastball from DJ Baxendale over the wall in left-center to give Clinton the 2-1 lead. Bryan Brito followed with a base hit to right and moved to second on Dillon Hazlett's sac bunt. Beloit elected to intentionally walk Jamal Austin to set up a possible double play with Dan Paolini but the move backfired in a big way.
A passed ball allowed Brito and Austin to move up to third and second. Paolini made it hurt when he ripped a single up the middle to score both runners to give Clinton a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, Jairo Rodriguez led off with a chopper to short that deflected off the glove of Brito and into left field. Landazuri came back to retire Tyler Grimes for the first out in the frame. The lead-off hitter, Nate Roberts, then hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play to send Clinton to the Western Division Finals.
The last time Clinton made it to the Division Finals was 2010 when they defeated Kane County 2-1 in the best-of-three series. That LumberKings squad went on to lose in the Championship round in five games to Lake County. Clinton will play the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the best of three series to try and get back to the Midwest League Finals.
Game one is Saturday at Ashford University Field. Left-hander Rusty Shellhorn gets the ball for Clinton against Wisconsin right-hander Chad Thompson. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30.