Beau Jones came out of the bullpen and pitched six dominant innings Thursday as the Clinton LumberKings staved off playoff elimination with an 8-2 victory over the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
After dropping the opener of the best-of-3 Midwest League first-round series, 4-1, on Wednesday, the LumberKings had to sit out a 62-minute rain delay in the third inning of Game 2 after falling behind, 2-1.
But Jones (1-0) restored order by retiring the first 11 batters he faced while Clinton rallied for one run in the third and four in the fifth to take the lead for good, 6-2.
The 21-year-old left-hander yielded only one hit -- a single to Mark Trumbo in the sixth -- and a walk with six strikeouts as the LumberKings forced a decisive game on Friday at Alliant Energy Field.
"I had three pitches working, and my catcher, Manny Pina, called a great game," said Jones, who held the Kernels at bay with a 90 mph fastball to go with his changeup and curve.
After struggling with his control as a starter last season, Jones was sent to the bullpen to work on his command of the strike zone.
"Now I'm just trying to take that same mentality to the starting role and see if I can have some success with it," he said after his first relief appearance since tossing two scoreless frames in his Clinton debut on Aug. 3.
Ivan Izquierdo pitched around a hit in a scoreless ninth for his first playoff save. LumberKings starter Kasey Kiker surrendered two runs on two hits while walking two and striking out two in two innings.
K.C. Herren sparked the LumberKings' fifth-inning rally with a go-ahead RBI single and Mauro Gomez stroked a two-run double before David Paisano snapped out of an 0-for-20 funk with an RBI base hit.
Herren, Marcus Lemon, Jose Vallejo, Chad Tracy, Chris Kemp and Renny Osuna each had two of Clinton's 14 hits.
Cedar Rapids starter David Herndon yielded a run on three hits in one-plus inning. Bobby Cassevah (0-1) was reached for three runs -- two earned -- on five hits in 3 1/3 frames. He fanned five and did not walk a batter.
Trumbo and Matt Sweeney drove in the runs for the Kernels, who managed four hits.