Clinton, IA - Just one pitch proved to be the difference Saturday night at Ashford University Field. A first pitch fastball to Tyler O'Neill with the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning resulted in the 19-year-old's 12th home run in 2014 and second career grand slam, both of which have come in the past week.
Beloit Snappers' (18-35, 48-75) starter Joey Wagman (1-2) recorded just three outs in his second start vs. the Clinton LumberKings (24-30, 54-68) in a week. The righty, who signed with Oakland at the end of July, struggled in his shortest outing as a professional. Though the former Frontier League pitcher struck out the side in his only inning of work, the first four reached successfully.
After a leadoff single by Aaron Barbosa, Wagman walked both Brett Thomas and Marcus Littlewood. Following a visit from pitching coach Lloyd Turner, Wagman's first pitch to O'Neill cleared the wall in left field. The home run was the sixth since re-joining Clinton off of the disabled list on July 31st for O'Neill.
Though Blake Holovach was scheduled to start for Clinton, the lefty was scratched just prior to first pitch. With the late notice, Ricardo Pereira (ND) worked through four shutout innings. The Venezuelan righty stranded the bases loaded in the second, six on base overall in the start. The first start in Pereira's LumberKings career resulted in a no-decision, as Cruz Pereira (1-0) relieved him to begin the fifth.
The lefty out of the pen followed with four shutout innings of his own, as he picked up the win in his Clinton debut. Though he worked only one 1-2-3 inning, he did not allow a man to get to second base. Tyler Herb pitched a scoreless ninth, as he allowed only a double to Philip Pohl in the win.
The shutout was the 11th of the season for Clinton, now tied for the league lead with the Peoria Chiefs. O'Neill's four RBI's equaled his career high, matched three times this season. The victory for the LumberKings has the season series with Beloit even at 8-8, and brought Clinton within 5.5 games of Wisconsin for the second half wild card position in the Western Division.
The series finale, and final time Clinton and Beloit will meet in 2014 is scheduled for 2:00 CT Sunday afternoon. Carlos Misell (8-9, 4.20) and Kyle Finnegan (6-8, 3.56) are scheduled to start for their respective clubs. Each started in the first series between the LumberKings and Snappers earlier in the month. The LumberKings broadcast of the series finale can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, WCCIRadio.com, and LumberKings.com.