Peoria, IL - The Clinton LumberKings closed to within 1.5 games of the Peoria Chiefs in the MWL Western Division for second place with an animated 8-2 victory Monday night at Dozer Park. With the wind gusting right to left at 15-20 MPH and temperatures in the mid-70s, it was Clinton who surged in front 3-0 and never looked back, burying the Chiefs in a six-run hole through the first four innings.
Chiefs ace Alex Reyes - the No. 7 overall prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization according to Baseball America - struggled after a scoreless first inning. The right-hander issued back-to-back one-out walks to Joe DeCarlo and Corey Simpson in the second, and Chantz Mack made Reyes pay with his second hit in 14 at-bats with Clinton - another home run.
Up 3-0, Clinton tacked on two more runs in the third, despite recording just one single in the inning. Reyes' wildness continued with three walks, in addition to beaning Jack Reinheimer. His second walk of the inning, to DeCarlo, forced in Clinton's fourth run, and Simpson brought home Austin Wilson from third via a groundout.
Peoria answered with one run in the home half of the third on a bloop RBI single to right by Juan Herrera, but Clinton busted out with another big inning in the fourth. The L'Kings sent seven batters to the plate - Miller doubled, Reinheimer was hit by pitch again, and after Reyes retired Marcus Littlewood and Wilson, he walked Jeff Zimmerman, ending his night. Chris Perry came on in relief, and promptly served up a two-run double to DeCarlo. His next pitch skipped past catcher Carson Kelly, allowing Zimmerman tosprint home from third.
LumberKings starter Jose Flores, however, settled for a no-decision after failing to reach five innings for the third time in four starts. Flores allowed another run in the fourth, and benefitted from two controversial calls in the inning. The first - a line drive to Zimmerman at first - was ruled a foul ball after Zimmerman dropped the ball. Peoria Manager Joe Kruzel, already upset with umpire Mike Savakinas' strike zone from the prior half inning, was ejected and departed to a rousing ovation after a five-minute argument.
Upon Kruzel's ejection, another fielder's choice resulted in the second out, but Lonnie Kauppila booted a ground ball, handing the Chiefs their second run. C.J. McElroy Jr. then reached on an infield single, loading the bases with two outs for Vaughn Bryan. Bryan, making his Peoria debut, bounced a ground ball to Zimmerman at first base which glanced off of his glove to shallow right. Reinheimer, in just his sixth start at second base, gloved the redirected ball and fired an off-balance throw to Flores covering at the bag. The ball appeared to arrive late, but Field Umpire Dave Attridge ruled Bryan out at first with an emphatic call, keeping the Chiefs in a six-run hole, 8-2.
Blake Holovach (4-1) entered for Flores in the fifth and pitched three shutout innings before turning it over to Paul Fry who recorded the final six outs. Reyes (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season. He allowed a season-high eight earned runs on four hits and six walks. Chiefs right-hander reliever Chris Perry lasted 4.1 innings in relief, and allowed just one hit and one walk while recording nine strikeouts.
Reinheimer extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games with a single in the first. He also swiped his team-high 16th stolen base. The LumberKings have won three of four games against the Chiefs and have another five games remaining against Peoria before the MWL All-Star break.
Clinton (23-19) continues their series at Dozer Park tomorrow with a 6:30 PM CT start against Peoria (25-18). Right-hander Lars Huijer (2-1, 2.92) gets the nod for the L'Kings and southpaw Jimmy Reed (1-1, 5.09) will start for the Chiefs. The game can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.