Appleton, WI - It's safe to say the LumberKings' bats have wakened from an April slumber. On a breezy day at Neuroscience Group Field, Clinton sprayed a season high 21 hits and rallied from an eight-run hole in the final four innings to win 16-13 over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
For the fifth time in six games, Clinton scored first. The L'Kings plated two runs in the first, behind three singles to start the game. Jack Reinheimer singled home Ian Miller and Austin Wilson brought in Zach Shank from third on an RBI groundout.
L'Kings starter Edwin Diaz couldn't preserve the Clinton lead. Coming off a career high five-walk outing, the right-hander issued three walks to the first four batters. The Timber Rattlers scored their run on a double steal and throwing error. Christian Carmichael airmailed Zach Shank at second base which allowed Omar Garcia to score after swiping third.
Clinton made it a two-run lead again in the second. Burt Reynolds drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and scored one out later on Lonnie Kauppila's RBI single to right.
But Diaz' struggles continued in the third. The highly touted prospect allowed four runs in the inning, three coming on a three-run home run. Back-to-back two-out singles extended the inning before Chris McFarland cleared the wall in left for his fourth dinger. The home run was the first allowed by Diaz in 2014, and the righty departed after the third. He allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits and four walks while striking out four.
The LumberKings plated another run in the fifth to cut the Timber Rattlers lead to one, 5-4, but Wisconsin put up seven runs in the bottom half, all charged to Clinton lefty Leoncio Munoz. Two walks and two fly outs began the inning, but Munoz could not record the final out. Munoz departed after allowing two run-scoring singles, one walk, and two run-scoring doubles. Fellow left-handed reliever Blake Holovach replaced Munoz and allowed a two-run double.
Not to be deterred, Clinton chipped away at the 12-4 deficit with one run in the sixth. Burt Reynolds tripled to left-center and Carmichael grounded to short, scoring Reynolds. Holovach kept the Timber Rattlers off the board in the bottom half, and the L'Kings bats stayed hot in the seventh.
Clinton nearly matched the Timber Rattlers 7-run fifth where they sent 11 men to the plate. The LumberKings scored six times, also sent 11 batters to the plate, and dug their way back to a 12-11 score. Shank walked, Reinheimer singled, and Wilson brought them both in with a 2-run double. Tyler O'Neill knocked the first of three run-scoring singles in the frame, but the L'Kings left the tying run at third base when Reinheimer - making his second at-bat of the inning - grounded into a fielder's choice.
Up 12-11, Wisconsin tacked on another run after the stretch on a Michael Ratterree sacrifice fly. That run, however, was Wisconsin's final time touching home plate.
Clinton was far from finished.
Right-hander Harvey Martin delivered a scoreless eighth and struck out both Reynolds and Carmichael beginning the ninth. The Timber Rattlers closer had Lonnie Kauppila down in the count 1-and-2, and after fouling off two tough pitches, Kauppila singled past Martin into center keeping Clinton's hopes alive. Miller followed with a single to center on the first pitch he saw, and Shank worked an impressive eight-pitch at-bat before he too singled on a soft flare to center, scoring Kauppila. Miller moved to third on the blooper and represented the tying run.
Wisconsin Manager Matt Erickson met with Martin and his infielders on the mound, but stuck with his closer. Fortunately for Clinton, Martin had run out of gas.
Reinheimer fueled the fire and gave Clinton an improbable lead with a two-run triple. The L'Kings' shortstop lofted a high fly ball to right which landed just a few feet fair and Miller and Shank hustled around the bases, the latter whom beat the relay throw to the plate. Wilson then drilled a two-run missile inside the left-field foul pole over the wall, giving Clinton a three-run lead, 16-13.
Rafael Pineda (2-2), on in relief of Holovach, threw two shutout innings and picked up the win. Martin (2-2) suffered his third blown save in four tries and took the loss. Wisconsin starter Barrett Astin left after five innings and was in line for his fourth victory before the eight-run Timber Rattlers lead vanished.
Clinton recorded season highs in hits (21) and runs (16) and had seven players record multi-hit games. Shank (4x5, BB, 4 R, 2 RBI), Reinheimer (4x6, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB), and Wilson (2x5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 6 RBI) paced the attack. The top five batters, including the three aforementioned along with Miller and O'Neill, combined to go 16-for-28 with 11 runs scored and 13 RBI. Five different players also recorded stolen bases.
The victory was Clinton's fourth straight and they're now back above .500, having won five of six following a five-game losing skid.
The LumberKings (14-13) wrap up their three-game set against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (12-16) tomorrow at 1:05 PM CT. Righty Rigoberto Garcia, who spent part of last season with Clinton, makes his first 2014 start for the L'Kings. Wisconsin will counter with right-hander Tristan Archer. The remaining four road broadcasts can be heard in their entirety on WCCI 100.3 FM, WCCIRadio.com, and lumberkings.com.