Geneva, IL - A good start by Carlos Misell quickly disappeared in the third inning. The right-hander needed just 16 total pitches to get through the first two innings, but eight hits in the third - including a double, triple, and two home runs - along with a walk, led to a 6-run outburst by the Kane County Cougars (40-20, 85-45) in their 9-1 romp of the Clinton LumberKings (26-34, 56-72) Friday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The Cougars' winning streak was extended to 12 games while Clinton's skid stands at four straight losses. Kane County owns a Minor League Baseball-best record of 85-45 and thanks to some timely hitting and stellar pitching, win No. 52 at home for the Cougars came relatively easy.
Kane County's Danny Lockhart opened the third with a double to right and scored two pitches later on Carlos Penalver's triple to left - the first of three Cougar triples on the night. A sacrifice fly by Trey Martin plated Penalver, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead. But after a lineout to right, seven straight batters reached with two down, forcing Clinton skipper Scott Steinmann to look to his bullpen early for the fourth straight game.
Singles by Mark Zagunis and Jeimer Candelario began the stretch, setting up Jacob Rogers who worked the count in his favor, 2-0. Misell missed his spot with the next offering, and Rogers sent one over the wall, over the picnic patio, and out of the stadium to right. Cael Brockmeyer then cleared the wall in left on the very next pitch, capping the six-run frame.
The LumberKings' offense had the leadoff man reach base in each of the first three innings against Tyler Ihrig (2-1), but they failed to score each time. In the fourth, Clinton scratched one run across, thanks to a two-out, run-scoring bloop single by Jeff Zimmerman which knocked in Tyler O'Neill from second.
But that was it.
Over the final five innings, the LumberKings recorded just three hits. Aaron Barbosa bunted his way on in the fifth, Joe DeCarlo extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a one-out double in the sixth, and O'Neill grounded a single into center in the eighth.
Clinton's best scoring opportunity came in the eighth, backed by a Lockhart error at second which loaded the bases. Left-hander Michael Heesch, on in relief of Ihrig who allowed just one run on seven hits over six innings, struck out both Zimmerman and Christian Carmichael to escape.
For the visiting LumberKings, there was no evading trouble and another loss. Outside of Misell's perfect first and second innings, the Cougars went just 1-2-3 at the plate one other time, coming in the sixth against left-hander Cruz Pereira.
Aaron Brooks worked the final 1.2 innings for Clinton, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out three batters. The Cougars scored their final two runs in the eighth on their last triple of the night, the third of the season by Candelario.
Clinton is now 3-11 in 14 games against Kane County and 1-7 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark this season.
The LumberKings and Cougars meet for the final time this season tomorrow night with first pitch set for 6:30 PM CT at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Clinton will send right-hander Edwin Diaz (5-7, 3.47) to the mound against Kane County right-hander Daury (11-5, 2.82). The broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.