Geneva, IL - Right-handers Edwin Diaz and Ben Wells dueled pitch-for-pitch, but the Kane County Cougars (41-20, 86-45) scored two times in the fifth, enough to hand the Clinton LumberKings (26-35, 56-73) another one-run loss, 2-1. The LumberKings' defeat was their fifth straight, while the Cougars extended their MiLB-best win streak to 13, placing them 41 games over .500, also best in the minors.
Hoping to stave off a series finale loss and sweep, Edwin Diaz (5-8) held the Cougars at bay through the first four innings, allowing just two singles. While Kane County struggled to figure out Diaz, the LumberKings took their first and only lead of the series.
Luis Caballero opened the top of the third with a walk and moved to third on an Aaron Barbosa single to center. Brett Thomas then drove a single to left, giving Clinton a 1-0 advantage. Wells settled in afterwards, retiring Tyler O'Neill, Jeff Zimmerman, and Joe DeCarlo in order, leaving Barbosa and Thomas on the bases.
And in a pitchers' duel, scoring opportunities came at a premium all night.
After Clinton failed to score in the fifth, Kane County's Cael Brockmeyer and Jeffrey Baez figured out Diaz in a span of two pitches in the home half. Brockmeyer doubled to left with one away, and Baez then smashed a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left. Diaz cranked up the velocity afterwards, striking out both Carlos Penalver and Trey Martin looking, but the Clinton offense was shut out over the final four frames.
Zimmerman doubled two-thirds up the wall in dead center to open the sixth, but he was eventually stranded at third.
Kane County then utilized two right-handed relievers to record the final nine outs, with only one LumberKing reaching base. Michael Wagner retired all six batters he faced, four on strikeouts, and Francisco Carrillo worked around a leadoff single by DeCarlo in the ninth to convert his sixth save.
Aaron Barbosa was the lone LumberKing to record multiple hits, and in doing so, he extended his hitting streak to six games. Thomas' single in the third pushed his streak to five, while DeCarlo's single in the ninth advanced his to a season-high 13 games.
Clinton is now 12-25 in one-run games.
The sweep for Kane County was their 10th of the season at home, and they are a Minor League-best 38 games over .500 at their home park.
Clinton and Kane County are done with their season series, and the Cougars won 12 of the 15 meetings and eight-of-nine at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The LumberKings now head home and open up a three-game set with the Peoria Chiefs at 2:00 PM CT tomorrow at Ashford University Field. Left-hander Eddie Campbell (9-8, 5.02) is scheduled to start for Clinton against Peoria right-hander Alex Reyes (6-7, 3.91). The broadcast can be heard on WCCI 100.3 FM, wcciradio.com, and lumberkings.com.