Clinton, IA - With an opportunity to gain a game on nearly ever team in the second half wild card chase, the Clinton LumberKings (23-30, 53-68) held a 3-2 lead after six innings, but Clinton closer Emilio Pagan allowed two runs in the eighth, as the Beloit Snappers (18-34, 48-74) took the first game of the series 4-3.
After having to work from behind in five of the seven games on the previous homestand, the LumberKings started out Friday night on the right note. Beloit right-handed starter Junior Mendez (ND) allowed two runs in the first, and just one more over his final five innings. Aaron Barbosa began the Clinton first inning with a single, and after he stole second, his 34th of the season, Brett Thomas' RBI double put Clinton ahead 1-0. Thomas later scored on an error by Beloit shortstop Melvin Mercedes, as the LumberKings led 2-0 after one inning.
Clinton starter Jose Flores (ND) cruised through his first three innings, as the righty allowed just one man to reach. Beloit however cut into the lead with a single run in the fourth, and later tied it with a lone run in the sixth. An error by Clinton first baseman Jeff Zimmerman allowed B.J. Boyd to reach first to begin the inning, and he later scored on an RBI single by Philip Pohl. Flores went five innings, and left in line for the win, but Aaron Brooks' (L, 5-4) first pitch in relief resulted in Matt Chapman's fourth home run of the season, as Flores settled for a no-decision.
Doubles by Tyler O'Neill and Justin Seager in the sixth put Clinton back on top, but the LumberKings bullpen could not hold onto the lead. Brooks allowed the first two men to reach in the eighth, and with men on second and third with one out, Emilio Pagan came on for a four out save. After a strikeout of Pohl, Michael Soto brought home two runs with a two-out single to centerfield, the eventual game-winning hit.
Brendan McCurry (2-0), who relieved Mendez to begin the seventh, faced just six hitters over two innings as he picked up the win. Sam Bragg (SV, 7) induced a game ending double play from Nelson Ward, as the Snappers won for the eighth time in 15 meetings between the two clubs in 2014.
Brett Thomas had the only multi-hit game for Clinton, while three of the nine Beloit starters recorded multiple hits. Joe DeCarlo extended his hit streak to five games in the loss, while Melvin Mercedes lengthened his hit streak to seven in the Snappers' win.
The two teams are set to meet up again Saturday night, as Joey Wagman (1-1, 5.74) and Blake Holovach (6-4, 3.87) are set to start for their respective clubs. First pitch in Clinton is set for 6:30 CT. The LumberKings broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, WCCIRadio.com, and LumberKings.com.