Cedar Rapids, IA - Clinton and Cedar Rapids met for a pair of games on Saturday, and LumberKings head coach Scott Steinmann couldn't have asked for much more out of his club. Following the tough loss in the season opener courtesy of the Bryan Haar walk-off home run, it was a dominant performance for Clinton in every facet of the game. The LumberKings outscored the Kernels 10-1, outhit Cedar Rapids 18-8, and committed only one error to the Kernels' three, as the visitors swept the pair, two more wins than Clinton had in six attempts at Cedar Rapids in 2013.
Even with the solid offensive performance in each game, it was the pitching that shined for the LumberKings. Eddie Campbell (1-0) made his 2014 debut, as the former Virginia Tech Hokie shined on the mound in route to the victory. The lefty kept the Kernels off the board, as Cedar Rapids managed only two hits through the first five innings. On the way to the win, Campbell struck out five and walked four.
Before Campbell stepped on to the field, Clinton was on the board. Center fielder Ian Miller led off the game with an infield single right back to the Kernels starting pitcher Randy Rosario, who then threw past first base. That allowed Miller to get into scoring position right away. A strange play followed, as it appeared as if Miller was tagged out following a Martin Peguero ground out to the left side. But Miller was given the free pass back to second after an interference call on Cedar Rapids' third baseman Joel Licon. It proved to be the difference in the game. The interference call preceded a Jack Reinheimer double play that put Miller at third. Miller scored on an Austin Wilson RBI single, the base hit which put Clinton ahead for good.
Clinton doubled its lead to two when Christian Carmichael put one over the wall in left for the LumberKings' first home run of the season in the second. The score remained 2-0 until the top of the 4th, when Tyler O'Neill followed Carmichael with a drive deep to left. O'Neill's solo shot made it 3-0 LumberKings. Later in the inning, Clinton wrapped up it's half of the scoring and plated another on a Lonnie Kauppila RBI single that scored Jeff Zimmerman.
Eddie Campbell handed the 4-0 lead to the bullpen after five innings, giving the ball to Leoncio Munoz who finished the final two frames. Munoz allowed the sole run for the Kernels in the sixth. After a single by Thursday night's Kernels hero Bryan Haar, Cedar Rapids catcher Michael Quesada drove him home with an RBI double. Munoz settled down after Quesada's double, as he retired the final four Kernels hitters of the game.
Just over 30 minutes after Munoz closed out the first LumberKings win of 2014, things got back underway at Perfect Game Field. Clinton's offense didn't get started as quickly as it did in the first half of the twin dip, but the pitching was just as excellent. In his first professional start, Carlos Misell (1-0) matched Eddie Campbell with five shutout innings of his own. Misell, who has yet to allow a run as a member of the Mariners organization, allowed only four hits and struck out three.
The LumberKings finally broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the 5th. Joe DeCarlo drew a leadoff walk, Miller picked up his third hit of the doubleheader, and each moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt laid down by Kauppila. Zach Shank followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring DeCarlo. Marcus Littlewood then knocked out the former LSU Tigers star Eades with two outs in the 5th, as his single brought home Ian Miller to make it 2-0. Clinton pushed another run across the plate, as Tyler O'Neill greeted reliever Brandon Peterson with an RBI single that brought home Aaron Barbosa to cap off the three run 5th.
Ahead 3-0, Emilio Pagan got the call to replace Misell to begin the 6th. A 1-2-3 inning for Pagan set up the LumberKings to double the lead to 6-0 in the top of the 7th. Shank doubled and scored on an RBI single by Barbosa. Littlewood doubled home Barbosa to make it 5-0. Clinton tacked on one more as Littlewood scored on a double play ground out by Zimmerman. Another clean inning for Pagan followed in the 7th, a 1-2-3 frame that gave him his first save of the season. Misell got the win, Eades was tagged with the loss, and Clinton picked up its first shutout of the season.
A nearly flawless pair of 7-inning games for the LumberKings sets up a series winning opportunity in the finale of a four game series. Scott Steinmann will hand the ball to Jake Zokan for his Midwest League debut. Zokan split time between Pulaski and Everett in 2013. Opposite Zokan is the #4 overall pick of the 2013 draft and #4 ranked prospect in the Twins organization, Kohl Stewart. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 Sunday afternoon from Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The broadcast can be heard on 100.3 FM and WCCIRadio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.