Lansing, MI - The Clinton LumberKings (11-17, 41-55) won for the fourth time in five games and handed the Lansing Lugnuts (13-15, 45-52) their third straight loss, 6-2, Saturday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Jose Flores, coming off of his first loss of the season last Saturday against Cedar Rapids, continued Clinton's trend of solid starts by the rotation. The right-hander watched his offense jump in front early with one run in the first - the fourth straight game the L'Kings have scored first. Chantz Mack brought home Aaron Barbosa from third on a double play, and three innings later, Clinton tacked on another run.
Catcher Marcus Littlewood grounded his first triple of the season into the right-field corner. On the first pitch from Brad Allen (3-3) to Jeff Zimmerman, Allen threw wild, allowing Littlewood to race home from third.
Flores pitched to contact and received excellent defense behind him with a 2-0 lead. And in the sixth, the lead tripled.
The LumberKings sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth, and the four-run rally began on Chantz Mack's fifth home run - a solo blast to right. Mack's homer knocked Allen out of the ballgame, and left-hander Matt Dermody came on in relief. Justin Seager drilled the first pitch from Dermody into center and after Littlewood lined out sharply to left, four straight two-out hits resulted in an additional three runs. Zimmerman doubled Seager to third and Isaiah Yates grounded a two-run single to left, making it a 5-0 advantage. Martin Peguero and Lonnie Kauppila then strung two more singles together, the latter scoring Yates from second.
Up 6-0, Flores (3-1) allowed one run in the sixth and another in the seventh, but prevented further damage. The Venezuelan struck out the final batter he faced in the seventh, giving him a career-high seven innings. The outing was Flores' team-high sixth quality start. He allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two.
Rafael Pineda worked two scoreless innings in the eighth and the ninth to preserve the lead.
Eight of the starting nine for Clinton recorded hits. Aaron Barbosa (0-5, R, SB) was the only LumberKing to go hitless. Jack Reinheimer went 1-for-5 celebrating his 22nd birthday and Kauppila (2-4, RBI) was the lone player to notch multiple hits.
The LumberKings are now 9-6 overall against Eastern Division opponents, and the Lugnuts are now just 4-11 against the Western Division.
The LumberKings and Lugnuts meet again Sunday afternoon for the game two of the series with first pitch set for 1:05 PM CT. Clinton will send right-hander Carlos Misell (8-8, 4.15) to the mound against Lugnuts right-hander Jeremy Gabryszwski (6-3, 4.18). The broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.