Three-run homers were the main source of scoring in the Midwest League playoff game between Clinton and Kane County on Wednesday night. Kameron Misner was a part of two of them.
The Marlins' No. 10 prospect went 3-for-5 with a towering three-run blast and two runs scored as the LumberKings beat the Cougars, 7-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-3 opening-round series at NelsonCorp Field.
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After flying out in his first two at-bats, Misner singled to left field in the fifth inning on a 1-2 offering from Andy Toelken.
"One of the biggest things is scoring runs ... so you need baserunners," Misner said of the main goal in his third at-bat. "You try to get on base any way you can. I was fortunate enough to get a good pitch to hit."
The 21-year-old came around to score three batters later when Bubba Hollins clubbed a three-run shot over the left-center field fence to give Clinton a 3-0 advantage.
"It was awesome. When Bubba hit that ball, everybody knew it was gone," Misner said. "Getting shut out for the first four innings and then him coming through with a three-run home run, it definitely sparks another level of excitement in the dugout. It got everyone pumped up and we wanted to get the game rolling."
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LumberKings starter Remey Reed allowed back-to-back singles to begin the sixth and Zack Shannon tied the game with a three-run tater to left-center eight pitches later.
"There was definitely a little momentum shift," Misner said. "It's a bummer when something happens like that, but it's happened before and we knew we were going to score more than three runs ... anyway. We've been pretty good at scoring more than three runs. We were confident and got it done tonight."
The 35th overall pick in this year's Draft helped get it done in the bottom of the sixth. With two on and two out, Misner sent a 3-1 offering from Chester Pimentel (0-1) over the wall in right-center. Estimated at 429 feet, it put Clinton ahead for good.
"It was my fourth at-bat of the night. It was a good hitter's count," the University of Missouri product said. "I got a pretty good pitch to hit. I was fortunate to put a pretty good swing on it, and it paid off."
Misner added a third hit when he singled to left in the eighth.
"It's something you look forward to, going into playoffs," he said. "It's something special. A lot of the guys have worked hard to get here and we wanted to just play good baseball. We can't control the outcome, but we can control how we play.
"It's huge. It's what we wanted to do. We stuck with what we do best, and that's playing hard baseball. Things worked out in our favor and we can't be any more excited for the next game."
In 34 regular-season games, Misner batted .276/.380/.753 with two long balls and 20 RBIs.
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"I've played a lot of games, but I had a little break, so I didn't play near as many as these guys," he said with a laugh. "It's still the same thing every day. You want to play your best. Our manager [Mike Jacobs'] biggest thing coming off the off day was do whatever you need to do to play today, Everyone did that, and it paid off."
Misner feels he's achived the goals he set when he joined the Marlins organization.
"I really wanted to get my feet in the water, get used to playing every day and get to know the guys," he said. "I think I've done that. It's been pretty special and I'm looking forward to the next few weeks to see what we can do and I'll go from there."
Manuel Rodriguez (1-0) worked around two walks over 2 2/3 hitless innings, striking out one, for the win.
D-backs No. 28 prospect Dominic Fletcher singled, walked twice and scored a run for Kane County, which hosts Game 2 on Thursday.
In other Midwest League action:
Great Lakes 6, Lake County 4
Justin Yurchak and James Outman clubbed early solo homers and the Loons took Game 1 of their best-of-3 series. Dodgers No. 20 prospect Ryan Pepiot allowed a run over two hitless innings, walking two and striking out two. Quentin Holmes doubled, singled and drove in a pair of runs for the Captains. Game 2 is Wednesday at Great Lakes. Gameday box score
South Bend 2, Bowling Green 1
Faustino Carrera tossed five scoreless frames, allowing four hits and two walks, en route to a Game 1 win. The Cubs never trailed after Clayton Daniel opened the contest with a walk, stole second and scored on an infield hit by Nelson Maldonado. Jake Slaughter followed with an RBI triple. Game 2 is Wednesday at Bowling Green. Gameday box score
Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 1
Ramiro Rodriguez lifted a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth inning for the River Bandits, who got two hits and two RBIs from Wilyer Abreu. Valente Bellozo got the win after limiting the Kernels to a run on four hits and two walks with six punchouts over six innings. Game 2 is Thursday at Quad Cities. Gameday box score