Geneva, IL - Kane County got seven shutout innings from right-hander Paul Blackburn and scored two runs in the fourth to knock off the Clinton LumberKings Thursday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, 6-1. Clinton's Eddie Campbell carried a perfect game into the fourth, but was not-so-perfect over his final two-plus innings.
Campbell sat down the first nine batters he faced, but ran into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings. Tied at zero, Campbell allowed three straight singles - the last an RBI single by Ben Carhart beginning the fourth - putting Kane County in front, 1-0. Yasiel Balaguert then bounced a grounder back to Campbell, who looked Carlos Penalver back to third before beginning a 1-6-3 double play. Penalver came home to score, but risked a near-triple play in the process. First baseman Justin Seager's throw was high and wide towards the third base side, however, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
After Clinton was shut down by Blackburn for the fifth straight inning, the Cougars took advantage of three straight walks issued by Campbell. Following a Trey Martin lineout to third, Jake Hannemann lofted a sacrifice fly to left, making it 3-0 Cougars.
The score remained that way until the Cougars added another run in the seventh off of Thyago Vieira. Clinton answered with one run in the eighth, thanks to a run-scoring double by Jack Reinheimer, but it was too little, too late. The Cougars put away the L'Kings for good with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, one coming on a Balaguert blast to center field - a play which resulted in Clinton Manager Scott Steinmann being ejected for the second time this season.
The LumberKings failed to draw a walk for the third straight game. Clinton hasn't walked since the fifth inning Monday night against Chris Perry of the Peoria Chiefs.
Campbell (2-3) allowed three earned runs, scattering four hits and four walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out two but suffered his second consecutive loss. Blackburn (5-1) gave up just four hits - all singles - and struck out six. The 20-year-old has given up just seven earned runs over his last 40.1 innings pitched - a 1.56 ERA - spanning seven starts.
Vieira's string of 10.1 scoreless relief innings was snapped in his first inning of work in the seventh. Corey Simpson was the only LumberKings player to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4.
Clinton (24-21) continues their three-game set with Kane County (31-16), the middle game tomorrow night beginning at 6:30 PM CT from Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Right-hander Carlos Misell (5-2, 3.13) gets the nod for the L'Kings and right-hander Tyler Skulina (2-1, 3.19) will start for the MWL Western Division-leading Cougars. The meeting is the second of nine first-half matchups between the two teams. The game can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.