Clinton, IA - The Clinton LumberKings (6-10, 36-48) and Kane County Cougars (12-4, 57-29) played 14 innings before a winner was decided Sunday afternoon at Ashford University Field. The visiting Cougars, seeking their second series sweep of Clinton, watched Martin Peguero give the L'Kings their second walk-off win of 2014.
Tight ballgames had been the norm for the LumberKings, having played three one-run games over their past four games. And Sunday was no different.
Expecting to see Kane County's Jen-Ho Tseng for the first time, the Cougars instead moved the 19-year-old to the bullpen just minutes before first pitch and sent right-hander Tyler Skulina to the mound for his fourth start against Clinton.
The LumberKings, who had struggled against Skulina in his first three starts against Clinton, gave right-hander Jose Flores a 1-0 lead, scoring with two outs in the first inning. Jack Reinheimer extended his hitting streak to six games with a single to left-center, and one out later, raced home on a Justin Seager ground ball single to center.
Clinton's advantage held up until the sixth inning. Flores, who allowed one hit through the first five innings - an infield single to short - served up back-to-back hits in the sixth. Trey Martin blooped a one-out double up the right-field line and scored moments later on Shawon Dunston, Jr.'s RBI single into center.
Tied at one, both bullpens dueled throughout the later innings. Flores went a season-high 6.2 innings and handed over to Seon Gi Kim who shut down the Cougars with a season-high 5.1 shutout frames in relief. While Kim was dealing, Tseng entered for the Cougars in the seventh and silenced the L'Kings with five zeroes of his own.
The Cougars called on closer James Pugliese for the 12th inning and the right-hander was able to work around Mack's third single of the game. Pugliese, who hadn't allowed an earned run in 18 innings on the road, put up another zero in the 13th after issuing two walks.
Aaron Brooks (5-2), like Pugliese, flirted with danger during his two innings of work. Brooks escaped from a first-and-third, one-out jam in the 13th and worked around a two-out single in the 14th.
On the anniversary of the longest game in Midwest League history, a 25-inning, 7 hour and 37 minute affair between Clinton and Waterloo back in 1989, somebody had to win. And in about half the time and nine less innings, it was Clinton who finally broke through.
In the bottom of the 14th, the Cougars called on the first left-handed pitcher of the game, Gerardo Concepcion. The southpaw who signed a five-year Major League contract with the Chicago Cubs back in 2012 only recorded one out. He walked Mack leading off the frame and Seager followed with an infield single to third. Marcus Littlewood then struck out looking but after newly promoted outfielder Brett Thomas drew a walk to load the bases, Martin Peguero lined a sharp single to left scoring Mack from third.
Four LumberKings recorded multiple hits, led by Mack who went 3-for-5 and raised his batting average to a season-high .299. In the three-game series, the University of Miami product went 9-for-13. Seager, Thomas, and Peguero each recorded two hits apiece.
Clinton was outhit 11-10 and the two teams left a combined 21 men on base. The LumberKings are now 7-17 in one-run games and improved to 4-10 in extra innings. The win was just their third in 12 meetings against the Cougars.
The LumberKings, along with the rest of the Midwest League, do not play Monday. Clinton will head to Peoria Tuesday, opening up a three-game series against the Chiefs. First pitch is set for 7:00 PM CT. All three games can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.