Geneva, IL - The Kane County Cougars (39-20, 84-45) led from start to finish against the Clinton LumberKings (26-33, 56-71) Thursday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. The home team plated four runs in the first and never looked back en route to a 7-3 win, their 51st home victory of the season.
LumberKings starter Blake Holovach (6-5), pitching on 11 days of rest, recorded just two outs in the first inning before exiting with two runs already in. Right-hander Tyler Herb came on in relief, and promptly served up a two-out, two-run double to Chesny Young, giving the Cougars a 4-0 advantage through one frame.
And those four runs proved to be enough.
Kane County, already with an impressive 67-8 record when scoring four or more, built on that thanks to their right-hander, Jonathan Martinez (10-5).
Martinez, who was acquired at the deadline as a player to be named later when the Chicago Cubs sent Darwin Barney to the Los Angeles Dodgers, struck out the first five batters of the game. Jeff Zimmerman ended that stretch with a two-out single in the second, but the former Great Lakes Loon breezed through the rest of the order, allowing just three hits over five shutout innings. He struck out eight, a season high with Kane County, and came three shy of his career-high 12 back on April 3 at Fort Wayne.
Joe DeCarlo knocked a run-scoring single in the sixth inning off of James Pugliese, scoring Brett Thomas, pulling Clinton back within five, 6-1.
An error by Justin Seager with two outs in the bottom half, however, gave the Cougars an unearned run, pushing their lead back to six, 7-1.
The teams then traded zeroes in both the seventh and eighth innings, but despite the lack of offense, benches cleared after a play at second in the home half of the seventh.
Seager fielded a one-out groundball with runners at first and second and then fired to shortstop Nelson Ward at second for the force. Kane County's Trey Martin slid hard into the bag, and ended up being injured on the play, causing a brief delay. During the delay, Cougars Manager Mark Johnson met with Martin, and then approached Ward exchanging words, which caused the dugouts and bullpens to empty.
No players were ejected.
The LumberKings made a late rally attempt in the top of the ninth against Cougar reliever David Garner, scoring two runs with two outs. Garner walked three in the inning, the last forcing in a run to make it 7-2. Aaron Barbosa then lined a RBI single into center, bringing the tying run to the plate. Johnson called upon his new closer Francisco Carrillo for the final out, and the right-hander struck out Thomas on four pitches to end the game.
Clinton is now 3-10 in 13 games against Kane County and 1-6 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark this season.
The LumberKings continue their three-game set with the Cougars tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 6:30 PM CT at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Clinton will send right-hander Carlos Misell (8-9, 4.27) to the mound against Kane County left-hander Tyler Ihrig (1-1, 2.93). The broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.