Peoria, IL - The Clinton LumberKings (30-38) found another way to lose, this time on Father's Day Sunday afternoon at Dozer Park. An error in the bottom of the 9th allowed the Peoria Chiefs (37-32) to tie the game at five, and Mason Katz ended the game with a towering solo blast - his second of the game - leading off the tenth.
Clinton led through the first 8 ½ innings and never trailed until Katz's bomb in the 10th. The LumberKings plated one run in the first inning off of Peoria right-hander Arturo Reyes. Zach Shank led off the game with a double and moved to third on a bunt single by Aaron Barbosa - the first of his 4-for-4 performance. Two batters later, Marcus Littlewood scored Shank on a groundout to short.
Up 1-0, the L'Kings got to Reyes again in the third, scoring twice. Littlewood brought home Barbosa again with a run-scoring single and moments later, Chantz Mack scored Littlewood from first with a double into the right-field corner.
LumberKings right-hander Jose Flores didn't allow any runs over the first three innings, but was tagged for single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, every run coming with two outs. In the fourth, Peoria catcher Steve Bean hit a solo HR off of the right-field foul pole, and in the fifth, Juan Herrera grounded an RBI single into center. Katz then mashed his first of two home runs over the wall in left, cutting Peoria's deficit to one, 4-3, in the sixth.
Littlewood and Barbosa teamed together again in the fifth. Cleaning up for the second straight game, Littlewood knocked in Barbosa with a single to left, giving him his second three-RBI game of the first half.
Clinton added an insurance run in the top of the 9th behind Zach Shank's fourth HR of the season. The L'Kings had a chance for more but left runners at first and second base.
With 23 MPH winds gusting out the entire game, a two-run lead felt slightly safer than one. But Peoria showed that no lead was safe.
In the home half of the 9th, Rafael Pineda (3-3) walked Michael Schulze with one out and Vaughn Bryan followed with a single. Juan Herrera then grounded to Jeff Zimmerman at first base who gloved and fired to Reinheimer at second for the force play, but the throw carried into left field, allowing Schulze to score while Bryan raced to third. Justin Ringo then tied the game at five with a single to left, setting up a potential game-winner for Steve Bean. The Chiefs' catcher singled into center and Herrera attempted to score from second but Barbosa - who also swiped a season-high three stolen bases - recorded his third outfield assist by hosing a sliding Herrera at the plate. Pineda sent the game to extras by striking out Luis Perez.
Just 3-8 in extra-inning games, Clinton went 1-2-3 in the 10th. And in the bottom half, Katz's shot to straightaway center gave the Chiefs a series sweep, and Clinton's fifth straight loss in the process.
Brandon Lee (1-2) earned the win in relief for Peoria. Clinton went just 3-for-13 with RISP and left nine men on base.
The LumberKings closed the first half by dropping 11 of their last 12 games, and Sunday's defeat put them a season-high eight games under .500. Records for all 16 teams in the MWL will reset for the second half. Clinton is currently 3-11 in the month of June.
Clinton, along with the rest of the Midwest League, will have the next three days off with the MWL All-Star Game Tuesday night in Grand Rapids, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. The LumberKings will be back in action Thursday on the road at Beloit, the lone team Clinton finished ahead of in the Western Division for the first half. Probables have not been named for the series. First pitch is set for 7:00 PM CT at Pohlman Field. The four-game series can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.