Clinton, IA - Once again, the Clinton LumberKings' season will be on the line after they were thumped, 9-1, in game one of the Western Division Finals against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Clinton will travel to Wisconsin in a must-win game on Sunday night at Time Warner Cable Field.
Saturday night looked promising early on for Clinton as Dan Paolini launched a solo shot in the bottom of the first inning to give the LumberKings a 1-0 lead.
Clinton starter Rusty Shellhorn rolled through the first three innings, as he faced one over the minimum. The trouble started in the fourth inning as Wisconsin got a one-out single by Ben McMahan. Shellhorn then hit Nick Ramirez to put runners on first and second for Yadiel Rivera. The T'Rats shortstop made it hurt when he belted a three-run home run off a light tower beyond the left field wall to put Wisconsin in front, 3-1.
Mike Garza made it back-to-back home runs on a mammoth blast out of Ashford University Field to make it 4-1. The fifth inning didn't get any better as Wisconsin sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored five runs on seven hits in the frame and opened up a 9-1 lead. Brandon Macias, McMahan and Ramirez all had doubles in the inning. Shellhorn was lifted after 4 1/3 innings and was charged with eight earned runs.
Neither offense did much of anything the rest of the way. Wisconsin starter Chad Thompson settled in after Paolini's home run and struck out 10 batters in six innings. Relievers Stosh Wawrzasek and Santo Manzanillo combined for three scoreless innings and six more strikeouts to close out the LumberKings.
A lone bright spot for Clinton was Jeremy Dobbs who threw three scoreless frames in relief and Kevin Rivers who had the only multi-hit game for the LumberKings.
Clinton had their backs up against the wall in the series against Beloit and they were able to win two consecutive road games to win the series. They will have to do that again against a Wisconsin team that has beaten Clinton 13 times in 16 games in 2012.
The LumberKings send right-hander Seon-Gi Kim (4-4, 4.59) to the mound against Wisconsin right-hander Mark Williams (7-10, 3.88). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.