Clinton, IA - For the second consecutive night, the visiting Kane County Cougars (12-3, 57-28) pulled off a close win over the Clinton LumberKings (5-10, 35-48), as the 4-0 final score secured a series victory for the Cougars.
Clinton starter Edwin Diaz (2-5) came one strike shy of his fourth quality start of the season, as he left with an apparent right hand injury with two outs and two strikes on Jacob Rogers in the sixth inning. Diaz failed to win for the seventh consecutive start, though he allowed only two earned runs and three hits over 5.2 innings.
Cougars starter Duane Underwood (3-2) outdueled Diaz however, as he continued the stretch of Kane County starters domination over Clinton. Underwood matched a career high as the righty went six innings, all in shutout fashion. The stretch included four 1-2-3 frames, and he retired the final 11 LumberKings hitters that he faced.
The scoring started in the top of the third inning, as the Cougars tagged Diaz for a pair of runs. Jeimer Candelario walked to begin the inning and Shawon Dunston Jr. singled for the first hit of the night for Kane County. After both men moved to second and third, Carlos Penalver singled just past Diaz's glove into centerfield as both Candelario and Dunston Jr. scored. The score remained 2-0 until the ninth.
The Cougars added two more in the ninth against the combination of Paul Fry and Kevin McCoy. After singles by Yasiel Balaguert and Rogers to begin the inning, Luis Caballero misplayed Will Remillard's ground ball and he was charged with his first error of the season, the third of the game for Clinton. Balaguert scored on Caballero's mistake, and Rogers later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Cougars lefty Michael Heesch worked a scoreless ninth to close out the Kane County victory. The Cougars clinched a fourth consecutive series victory over the LumberKings, as Clinton fell to just 2-9 in the 11 meetings between the clubs in 2014.
Clinton tallied just five hits in the loss and fell for the sixth consecutive time to the Cougars. Chantz Mack was the only LumberKings hitter to record multiple hits, as his two-hit night made it six hits in the series for the former Miami Hurricane. Clinton pitchers struck out 11, while the Kane County staff struck out 10. Clinton has dropped three series in a row, and has not picked up a series win in the past nine, as the last LumberKings series win came in Beloit to begin June.
The series will conclude Sunday afternoon at 2:00 CT at Ashford University Field. Clinton will turn to Jose Flores (2-0, 4.18) to avoid the sweep, while Kane County looks for another sweep of the LumberKings with Jen-Ho Tseng (3-0, 3.22). The LumberKings broadcast can be heard on 100.3 FM WCCI, WCCIRadio.com, and LumberKings.com.