Any triple play is rare, but Class A Clinton found a particularly unique way to pull off the feat on Saturday.
The LumberKings flung the ball all around the field to escape the eighth inning unscathed in their 9-5 win over Burlington at Community Field. It was the team's first triple play in at least 20 years.
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Trailing, 9-4, the Bees opened the eighth with two hits and two walks, cutting the deficit to four and bringing the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. D.C. Arendas stepped in and lofted a fly ball to right fielder Jerar Encarnacion, with Tim Millard tagging up and heading home.
Encarnacion's throw came in hot, forcing Millard back toward third. Angels No. 6 prospect Jordyn Adams already had taken off from second, however, putting the duo in a pickle. Catcher and Marlins No. 10 prospect Will Banfield threw down to second after Adams, prompting Millard to try to score and creating more chaos.
"We were trying to keep calm and make sure we didn't throw anything away," Banfield said.
2019 Minor League milestones
The throw came back to Banfield and, after some pursuit, he was able to tag Millard for the second out. Adams, meanwhile, was moving between second and third, then tried to return to second before Banfield fired to second baseman Bubba Hollins, who caught the speedster off the bag to complete the triple killing.
It was obviously an exciting sequence of events, but according to Banfield, it was especially huge since it stifled a rally in a pivotal game for the LumberKings as they look to secure a Midwest League playoff berth.
2019 MiLB include
"We're kind of fighting for a playoff spot right now. ... If we didn't turn that play right there, then it would've been a completely different ballgame because they were down four and the bases were loaded with no outs," he said. "I think if we didn't do that, then it'd be a completely different story."
It was the sixth triple play in the Minor Leagues this season and second in as many days. Triple-A Syracuse completed its first in seven years in Friday's 3-1 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Banfield led the LumberKings' 13-hit attack, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Marlins No. 27 prospect Christopher Torres homered and drove in three runs, while Encarnacion and Sean Reynolds also went deep.