Davenport, IA - April showers brought two May victories for the visiting Clinton LumberKings at Modern Woodmen Park. The L'Kings, who were coming off an up-and-down April where they went 10-13, swept the Quad Cities River Bandits in a doubleheader Thursday night. A tale of two very different ballgames, Clinton found ways to hang on, and come from behind, earning 5-4 and 3-1 victories over the Bandits.
In game one, Clinton (12-13) took advantage of three first inning walks by River Bandits right-hander Andrew Thurman. Ian Miller and Jack Reinheimer drew consecutive five-pitch walks to start the first, and Marcus Littlewood wasted no time giving the L'Kings a 1-0 lead with an RBI single to center. Austin Wilson then walked to load the bases. After Tyler O'Neill struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch, Joe DeCarlo drove an RBI double to the foul pole in right, scoring Reinheimer. Littlewood, however, was thrown out at the plate and Corey Simpson struck out looking to end the inning.
The scoring continued in the second where the teams traded single runs. Clinton made it a 3-0 advantage, thanks to their leadoff hitter and hot hitting catcher. Miller reached on a fielder's choice and swiped second base for the second time in as many innings. Reinheimer followed with his second walk before Littlewood laced another run-scoring single to center. Quad Cities answered in the bottom half on a leadoff home run by catch Brian Holberton, but the L'Kings came back with an answer immediately in the third.
Two additional runs came across for Clinton in the next half inning, coming on another mini two-out rally. Simpson singled to center before Jeff Zimmerman roped a double off the fence in right-center. Simpson, running on contact with two away, narrowly beat the relay throw to the plate, making it 4-1. Zimmerman moved to third on the throw, and the controversial call by Umpire Brandon Butler brought Quad Cities Manager Omar Lopez out of the dugout. After a lengthy argument, Butler tossed Lopez for the second time in two weeks. A Chris Cotton wild pitch came after Lopez' departure, which allowed Zimmerman to cross home plate, giving Clinton a 5-1 cushion.
Similar to game two Wednesday night, a four-run lead was not a comfortable margin. Quad Cities finally got to right-hander Carlos Misell in the sixth, as the first three batters reached against the 22-year-old Venezuelan. Misell departed and Rafael Pineda came on to limit the damage, and benefitted from a nice defensive relay to the plate. Brett Phillips doubled to the wall in right with two men on, and appeared to have come through with the game-tying hit. Instead, it was a Wilson-Reinheimer-Littlewood combination that nabbed a sliding Thomas Lindauer at the plate, keeping Clinton in front, 5-4.
Pineda flirted with danger in the seventh, but the righty managed to pitch around two walks. He induced a huge 6-4-3 double play, helping him earn his second save in three tries. Misell (4-1) grabbed the victory, despite allowing season highs in hits (8) and earned runs (4). Thurman (2-2) was handed his second loss of 2014 for Quad Cities.
Momentum from the game one victory didn't carry over until the later innings in game two. Righty Jose Flores made his MWL debut and pitched an impressive four innings, scattering two hits and three walks while allowing just one earned run. His counterpart, southpaw Chris Lee, did not allow a single hit in four innings, but did walk a career high six batters. Clinton left the bases loaded in the first after three two-out walks were issued by Lee, and the bats remained silent until the seventh.
Lee departed after the fourth, and right-handers Andrew Walter and Tyler Brunnemann kept the L'Kings off the board in the fifth and sixth. Meanwhile, Paul Fry, who arrived to the stadium midway through game one, was called on to pitch in relief of Flores. Fry sizzled away the Bandits in his first two innings of work, and the offense finally awoke in the seventh - against Game 1 starting third baseman, Alex Gonzalez.
The River Bandits bullpen, burnt out from the back-to-back doubleheaders, called upon Gonzalez to record the final three outs. Gonzalez retired Joe DeCarlo on a groundout to third beginning the frame, but Justin Seager followed with a single to left. Ian Miller replaced Seager at first and stole second. Christian Carmichael then grounded a one-hop smash back to Gonzalez who couldn't field cleanly. With runners at the corners and one out, Clinton needed a fly ball to tie the game.
Burt Reynolds, who had homered in his previous two starts, was the perfect candidate. And Burt came through, in a much bigger way. Down 0-1 in the count, Reynolds launched a belt high fastball, a three-run moonshot to straightaway center, putting Clinton on top 3-1. That's all Fry (1-0) needed, as the left-hander picked up the win with another zero in the bottom of the seventh. Reynolds, who had the game-winning hit, also broke up Quad Cities' no-no effort with a two-out bloop single to right in the fifth. The outfielder has three home runs in 24 at-bats this season.
The LumberKings continue their road trip tomorrow, opening a three-game series in Appleton, WI, against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (12-14). Righty Lars Huijer (0-1, 4.42) is scheduled to start for Clinton while Wisconsin will counter with left-hander Tyler Alexander (1-2, 4.96). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM CT. The remaining six road broadcasts can be heard in their entirety on WCCI 100.3 FM, WCCIRadio.com, and lumberkings.com.