Michael Choice's Midwest League debut was a blast.
The 10th overall pick in this year's Draft hit a three-run homer in his first Class A at-bat Saturday, powering the Kane County Cougars to a 4-0 blanking of the Clinton LumberKings in Game 1 of their semifinal series.
After Daniel Straily (1-0) fanned two in a perfect first inning, he watched from the dugout as the Cougars supplied him with more than enough support.
Myrio Richard doubled with one out, but Clinton starter Taylor Stanton (0-1) appeared to escape unharmed by striking out Anthony Aliotti and Leonardo Gil. But Gil reached on a wild pitch and Choice -- promoted from short-season Vancouver to replace the injured Mitch LeVier -- sent a pitch over the right-center field fence to put Kane County in front.
Rashun Dixon followed with a blast to right, giving the Cougars back-to-back homers for the first time since April 25.
Staked to the lead, Straily cruised. He retired his final 14 batters and ended up with a career-high 11 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings.
Clinton made things interesting in the eighth against reliever Josh Lansford, who loaded the bases on singles by Mario Martinez and Gabriel Noriega and a walk by James Jones. But Northwest League All-Star Kevin Mailloux grounded out to end the threat and Lansford struck out the side in the ninth.
The best-of-3 series shifts to Clinton for Game 2 on Sunday.
In other Midwest League action:
Great Lakes Loons at Lake County Captains, postponed (rain)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.