Clinton, IA - The day started as an opportunity for the Clinton LumberKings (29-32) to jump up in the Western division Wild Card standings with a pair of games at home, but ended with the home team in 6th place in the division, 3.5 games back of Quad Cities, with just seven games remaining. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (31-31) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 victory in the first game, and an 8-5 come from behind win in game two. Wisconsin extended its win streak to six, while Clinton fell for the fifth consecutive ballgame.
In game one, Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead off of left-handed starter Eddie Campbell (4-4). Clint Coulter gave the Timber Rattlers the lead with an RBI double, his 14th double of the season and team leading 45th RBI. The LumberKings however answered with a run just over an inning later, as Austin Wilson homered over the left field wall off of Wisconsin lefty Anthony Banda (2-5), a solo blast that tied the game, 1-1.
The floodgates then opened for Wisconsin off of Campbell in the fourth, as the former Virginia Tech Hokie walked four in the inning in addition to a double by Michael Ratterree and an RBI single by Jose Pena. Three runs scored before Campbell gave way to Rafael Pineda, who escaped a bases loaded jam and kept the LumberKings deficit at only three.
But even the escape by the bullpen was not enough, as Banda and lefty Trevor Seidenberger shut down the Clinton offense. The LumberKings had just four hits, and five base runners overall as they dropped the opener of the doubleheader 4-1.
Already in desperate needs of wins, Clinton faced a near must-win game shortly after the conclusion of the 4-1 loss, and it started off very well for the hometown club. Clinton surpassed its total number of base runners from game one in just the first inning. Righty Victor Diaz had an extremely tough time throwing strikes, as he walked a pair and gave up three hits in a four-run Clinton first inning. Justin Seager had a pair of RBI's in the frame with a two-out double, which preceded Corey Simpson's RBI base hit that made it 4-0.
LumberKings starter Seon Gi Kim, who wasn't even scheduled to start as of late Saturday night, was just about perfect through four frames. The South Korean righty faced the minimum over four innings, and the only blemish was an Omar Garcia single in the first. Kim picked off Garcia just one batter later. The righty had not pitched more than four innings since August 13, 2012, and he didn't do so Sunday, as Thyago Vieira opened up the fifth inning.
Wisconsin used a big inning in the first game to pick up a win, and the Timber Rattlers used a big inning in game two to come from behind, as they plated six in the fifth. The wheels came off from the get go for the righty Vieira, as gave up a base hit to Francisco Castillo, before he issued back-to-back walks to Taylor Brennan and Rafael Neda. Vieira got Steven Halcomb to ground into a fielder's choice, but a wild pitch scored Brennan, and after a walk to Paul Eshleman, the righty saw two more runs come home on an Angel Ortega double, the lead cut to 5-3. Vieira went back to the dugout after he retired just one man, as Scott Steinmann went to lefty Nick Valenza. But he fared no better, as Johnny Davis tied the game with a two-run triple, and Garcia drove home Davis with a single to LF that gave Wisconsin the lead.
Clinton allowed an unearned run in both the sixth and the seventh, and did very little against the bullpen combination of Tyler Spurlin and Rodolfo Fernandez. The LumberKings brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh against Fernandez, but Jeff Zimmerman struck out and Seager ended the game with a groundout to Ortega.
The loss dropped Clinton to a season high three games under .500, matched only by the club's 10-13 record at the end of April. Justin Seager picked up hits in each game, as he extended his hit streak to a season high eight, while Zach Shank saw his team high hit streak end at 12 with an 0-3 performance in game one. The LumberKings' elimination number dropped to four with just seven games left.
The series finale between Clinton and Wisconsin is set for 6:30 CT at Ashford University Field Monday night in Clinton. Righties Jose Flores (2-0, 4.96) and Taylor Williams (3-1, 3.42) are set to start, as the LumberKings look to avoid a sweep. The LumberKings broadcast can be heard on 100.3 FM WCCI, WCCIRadio.com, and LumberKings.com.