Clinton, IA - Stellar pitching and timely hitting gave the Clinton LumberKings (3-3) their first home victory of 2014, as they knocked off the Lake County Captains (4-2) by a final of 4-1. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Clinton and a four-game winning streak for Lake County.
Edwin Diaz (1-0) was stellar as he picked up the win in his second Midwest League start. Diaz struck out a career high eight over five-shutout innings. The 2013 Appalachian league pitcher of the year settled in over his final two innings, as he touched 99 MPH on the Ashford University Field radar gun.
Diaz and Captains starting pitcher Luis Lugo (0-1) dueled through the first 2.5 innings, as neither side could scratch one across. For the fifth time in the first six games of 2014, the LumberKings got on the board first, tonight with a two-spot in the third. Lugo retired the first two of the inning, but surrendered a triple to centerfielder hitter Ian Miller. The MWL leading hitter Marcus Littlewood followed with his first of three walks on the night. With men on the corners, Jack Reinheimer picked up two 2-out RBI's with a double. That proved to be the difference offensively.
Just an inning later in the fourth, Clinton doubled the lead to 4-0. Following a leadoff walk to Tyler O'Neill, Joe DeCarlo broke out of a slump with a towering shot over the wall in left field. His first home run and RBI's of the season gave Diaz more room than he needed. Lugo failed to make it out of the fourth inning. All four runs were charged to Lugo, as he allowed four hits, walked four, and struck out three before Kenny Mathews took over for Lake County.
The following half inning, Diaz lit up the gun. The righty's fastball hit 99 once, and 96 multiple times, in what turned out to be the final inning of his start. He retired seven of the final eight batters he faced, including five of those by strikeout.
Scott Steinmann went to the pen to begin the sixth inning, and lefty Leoncio Munoz was nearly as dominant as Diaz. Munoz retired the first seven Captains he faced, three by strikeout. Munoz stayed in the ballgame into the 8th inning, where he was tagged with the sole Captains run. Following a one-out double by Lake County leading hitter Cody Ferrell, shortstop Dorssys Paulino followed with the same. Paulino made the score 4-1 after his double plated Ferrell. After Munoz allowed one more hit, a single to Grant Fink, Steinmann called on righty Rafael Pineda to record the final four outs of the game.
Pineda, who was credited with the save (1), struck out cleanup hitter Anthony Santander who represented the tying run at the plate. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the eigth for Clinton, Pineda followed suit with a quick 1-2-3 ninth to close out the win for the LumberKings.
Littlewood extended his hit streak to a team high five games. He reached base all four times, and raised his OBP to a league high .591. Diaz's eight strikeouts were a 2014 LumberKings high.
Clinton and Lake County will be back at it on Thursday night in the rubber match of the series, and the final time the two clubs meet in the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 CT at Ashford University Field. Clinton will send Eddie Campbell (1-0, 0.00) to the mound, while Lake County counters with Dace Kime (0-1, 13.5).