Burlington, IA - In one of the most remarkable comebacks in minor league baseball history, the Clinton LumberKings (16-15) overcame a 16-run sixth inning deficit to stun the Burlington Bees (16-15) 20-17 at Community Field in Burlington.
A seven-run second and nine-run fifth helped Burlington to an early 17-1 lead. The 16-run deficit, the largest of the season for the LumberKings, appeared to be the end of a still positive road trip that spanned three cities. But Clinton scored the final 19 runs to steal the series finale from the Bees.
Clinton's first three pitchers were all hit hard. Righty Jose Flores allowed eight runs in his second 2014 start, as 11 of the 24 he faced reached base successfully. Tommy Burns fared even worse. The former starter gave up six runs and retired only one. Clinton's third pitcher of the day, Paul Fry, allowed three runs in the fifth, before he pitched a scoreless sixth inning.
After the LumberKings fell into the 17-1 hole, the offense sparked with six runs in the sixth. Five hits, including a double by Marcus Littlewood, a triple by Justin Seager, and the first 2014 home run by Zach Shank highlighted the six run frame that cut the deficit to 10. Clinton knocked out Burlington starter Garrett Nuss in the inning. Nuss allowed seven runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings as he left on record for a team high fourth win.
Clinton plated five more in the eighth to cut the 10 run deficit to five, all five were charged to Eswarlin Jimenez. Jimenez allowed the first four he faced in the inning to reach. Burt Reynolds led off the inning with a solo home run, his fourth of the season. After a Seager single, Jimenez surrendered back-to-back doubles to Lonnie Kauppilla and Ian Miller. After Littlewood walked, Jeff Zimmerman doubled home both Miller and Littlewood to close out the scoring in the inning. Burlington led 17-12 after eight.
Ben Carlos came on for the Bees to begin the ninth. Clinton got four consecutive one-out singles from Seager, Kauppila, Miller, and Shank, as Carlson retired only one of the five he faced in the ninth and left with a 17-13 lead. The Bees then went to closer Alan Busenitz to get the final two outs, but he surrendered a game-tying grand slam to Marcus Littlewood. Busenitz retired the next two LumberKings at the plate to send the game to the bottom of the ninth, tied 17-17.
LumberKings manager Scott Steinmann elected to go to his closer, Emilio Pagan in the tie game in the ninth. Pagan faced the minimum over three scoreless frames, as the only base runner he allowed, a single in the ninth, was eliminated on a double play. Pagan struck out four of the nine men he faced.
The score remained 17-17 until Clinton struck in the top of the 12th. The sixth pitcher of the night for Burlington, Trevor Foss, allowed a one-out double to Zimmerman and a base hit to Joe DeCarlo before he walked Burt Reynolds to load the bases. Justin Seager grounded out to third, but Bees third baseman Ismael Dionicio had to go over to first to retire Seager, as Zimmerman scored the go-ahead run from third. Clinton added two more off of Foss in the inning, as Kauppilla singled home DeCarlo and Reynolds. The LumberKings led 20-17 after 11.5.
Kauppila, who had three hits on the night, was called to the mound for the 12th. Kauppila, who had never pitched professionally, retired the Bees in order in the 12th, as he picked up his first career save.
The 16-run comeback, 20 runs and 22 hits were all season highs for the LumberKings. Emilio Pagan (1-0) picked up his first win, while Trevor Foss (0-2) took the loss. Clinton went 7-3 on the road trip, and picked up series wins in Quad Cities, Wisconsin, and Burlington. Clinton opens up a 10 game home stand Thursday night at Ashford University Field in Clinton. First pitch between the LumberKings and Peoria Chiefs is set for 6:30 CT in Clinton. The broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, WCCIRadio.com, and LumberKings.com.