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Smokies' Clifton blows through fine start

Cubs No. 27 prospect allows one hit, whiffs nine in six innings
Trevor Clifton has been an All-Star in 2014 (Northwest League), 2016 (Carolina League) and 2017 (Southern League). (Brian McLeod/MiLB.com)
11:13 PM EDT

It's been two years since Trevor Clifton struck out as many as nine batters in a game. On Monday, the Cubs No. 27 prospect did so for the first time at the Double-A level, allowing one hit and two walks over six innings en route to the victory in Tennessee's 3-0

It's been two years since Trevor Clifton struck out as many as nine batters in a game. 
On Monday, the Cubs No. 27 prospect did so for the first time at the Double-A level, allowing one hit and two walks over six innings en route to the victory in Tennessee's 3-0 shutout of Jacksonville at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Gameday box score
Clifton (3-3) walked the first batter he faced -- No. 7 Marlins prospectIsan Díaz -- and gave up a two-out ground-rule double to Eric Jagielo in the opening frame, but punched out Cade Gotta to extinguish the threat.
The 22-year-old right-hander struck out Brian Schales and Sharif Othman to start the second, shook off a walk to Chris Diaz and fanned eighth-ranked Nick Neidert swinging. That began a streak of 13 straight outs that included striking out the side -- Jagielo, Gotta and Schales -- in order in the fourth. 

The gem lowered Clifton's ERA to 3.69 and followed a May 2 start in which the Tennessee native gave up two runs on two hits and three walks over two-thirds of an inning.
Last year, the 12th-round pick of the 2013 Draft went 5-8 with a 5.30 ERA in 100 1/3 innings for the Smokies. In 2016, Clifton had 129 strikeouts over 119 innings for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, going 7-7 with a 2.72 ERA over 23 starts to earn Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honors. Clifton hadn't reached the nine strikeout plateau since he fanned 10 on May 10 and Aug. 23 for the Pelicans that season.

Clifton was relieved by Scott Effross, who struck out four over two scoreless frames. James Norwood worked around a walk in an otherwise perfect ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Charcer Burks went 3-for-4 and Trey Martin hit a two-run homer to pace the Smokies.

Marisa Ingemi is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.