LumberKings score 16 runs in MWLCS Game 1 victory

final-score

The Clinton LumberKings scored eight runs in the 4th inning on their way to a 16-6 win over the Great Lakes Loons in Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship Series.

Although the LumberKings delivered a rout for their home crowd, the game didn’t always look that way. The Loons scored first with a three-run homer by DJ Peters in the opening frame. Clinton, however, responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the 1st, scoring twice on wild pitches by Great Lakes starter Jordan Sheffield.

DJ Peters did his part for the Great Lakes Loons, hitting a three-run homer and a double, and drawing two walks.

DJ Peters did his part for the Great Lakes Loons, hitting a three-run homer and a double, and walking twice.

The LumberKings evened the score in the 3rd inning when Luis Liberato doubled home Chris Mariscal. Liberato was one of three Clinton players to collect three hits in the game.

Clinton LumberKings manager Mitch Canham talks to outfielder Luis Liberato at third base.

Clinton LumberKings manager Mitch Canham (left) talks to outfielder Luis Liberato at third base.

Mariscal also had three hits, including a double and a triple. He walked twice and drove in three runs.

Clinton LumberKings second baseman Chris Mariscal

Clinton LumberKings second baseman Chris Mariscal

Rayder Ascanio also had three hits for the LumberKings, including a double and a triple. He singled home two runs in Clinton’s eight-run 4th inning. He doubled home two more runs in the 8th inning.

Clinton LumberKings shortstop Rayder Ascanio blows a bubble as he waits for the start of an inning.

Clinton LumberKings shortstop Rayder Ascanio blows a bubble during a pause in the action.

In addition to Ascanio’s two-run single, the LumberKings delivered a big blow in the 4th on Conner Hale’s three-run double.

The LumberKings scored six of the eight times they came to bat. Loons outfielder Gage Green pitched the bottom of the 8th inning, giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch. Loons fielders committed four errors in the game.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series begins at 6:30 p.m. CT at Clinton’s Ashford University Field. The scheduled starting pitchers are LumberKings RHP Pablo Lopez and Loons RHP Walker Buehler.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2016 Playoffs, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Dragons attendance best in Single-A, 7th among all MiLB clubs

The main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Dayton Dragons were the top draw among Single-A teams and ranked seventh overall in Minor League Baseball this year.

MiLB’s attendance rankings show all of the top ten teams are Triple-A clubs, with the exception of the Dragons. Thus, Dayton had the best attendance of any MiLB club below the Triple-A level — something the team has done for 11 consecutive years. The Dragons have had the highest attendance of any Single-A team in each of their 17 years of existence.

The Dragons drew a total of 548,574 fans to Fifth Third Field this year, for an average of 8,188 fans per game. Every home game for Dayton was a sellout, which has been the case in every Dragons season. The team has a sellout streak of 1,188 consecutive games, the longest such streak in professional sports history.

The Dragons have been a Reds affiliate for their entire existence. Dayton is located about an hour north of Cincinnati.

You can see the total and average attendance figures for every Midwest League team here.

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Vogelbach, Olson and Nunez make MLB debuts

Three former Midwest League players — Dan Vogelbach, Matt Olson and Renato Nunez — made their major-league debuts Monday. All three played in the Midwest League in 2013.

Vogelbach made his debut for the Seattle Mariners as a pinch-hitter in the 9th inning. He reached base on a fielder’s choice, and later was called out for missing second base while going from first to third on what would have been a single by Kyle Seager.

The former Chicago Cubs prospect, who was traded to the Mariners for former Burlington Bees pitcher Mike Montgomery in July, made his first MLB start at first base Tuesday. He batted eighth and went 1-for-4, collecting his first MLB hit with a single to right field in the 6th inning.

Vogelbach batted .284 with 17 HR and 71 RBI in 114 games with the Kane County Cougars.

Dan Vogelbach played first base for the 2013 Kane County Cougars.

Dan Vogelbach played first base for the 2013 Kane County Cougars.

Olson made his debut for the Oakland Athletics as a defensive replacement at first base in the bottom of the 8th inning. He drew a walk when he came to bat in the 9th inning.

The A’s prospect batted .225 with 23 HR and 93 RBI in 134 games with the Beloit Snappers.

Matt Olson played first base for the 2013 Beloit Snappers.

Matt Olson played first base for the 2013 Beloit Snappers.

Nunez made his debut for the A’s as a pinch-hitter in the 9th inning. He grounded out to first base. He made his first MLB start as Oakland’s designated hitter Tuesday, and is still looking for his first MLB hit after going 0-for-3 in the game.

Nunez batted .258 with 19 HR and 85 RBI in 128 games with the Snappers.

Renato Nunez played third base for the 2013 Beloit Snappers.

Renato Nunez played third base for the 2013 Beloit Snappers.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Loons advance to Midwest League Championship Series

The Great Lakes Loons celebrate after clinching their first trip to the Midwest League Championship Series. (Great Lakes Loons photo)

The Great Lakes Loons celebrate after clinching their first trip to the Midwest League Championship Series. (Great Lakes Loons photo)

The Great Lakes Loons rallied late to beat the West Michigan Whitecaps 5-2 Tuesday to advance to their first Midwest League Championship Series.

For much of the game, it looked like it would be West Michigan’s night. Starting pitcher Kyle Dowdy took a no-hitter into the 6th inning, and the Whitecaps had a 2-0 lead at the start of the 7th inning.

But then the Great Lakes offense awakened. The Loons scored once in the 7th, twice in the 8th, and twice in the 9th, all as their bullpen kept the Whitecaps’ bats at bay. Brendon Davis went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and a run batted in. Omar Estevez hit a two-run homer in the 9th.

The Loons now head to Clinton, where they will face the LumberKings in the league finals beginning Wednesday night. Clinton beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Western Division finals to reach the championship series. Interestingly, the Kernels and the Whitecaps — the two teams that lost in the division finals this year — played against each other in last year’s Midwest League Championship Series, with West Michigan coming out on top.

I’ll be at the Midwest League finals, so make sure to check this website each night for my write-up with photos of each game.

Posted in 2015 Playoffs, 2016 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

LumberKings advance to MWL Championship Series

The Clinton LumberKings are heading back to the Midwest League Championship Series for the first time since 2010 after outlasting the Cedar Rapids Kernels in an epic 1-0 Game 3 that lasted 11 innings Monday.

It was a hard-fought battle to win the game, as pitchers for both teams exchanged zeros and got out of jams unscathed throughout the contest — until the bottom of the 11th inning, of course, when Ricky Eusebio delivered a walk-off RBI single with two on and two outs.

LumberKings starter Nick Neidert pitched seven innings, giving up only three hits and a wild pitch while striking out nine and walking none. Ronald Dominguez was the most efficient pitcher in the game — he threw one pitch to end the top of the 11th inning and then was credited with a victory after the LumberKings won in the bottom half.

The LumberKings will be seeking their first Midwest League championship title since 1991. Clinton also won the MWL championship in 1963, when the team’s nickname was the C-Sox.

Clinton will face the winner of Tuesday’s game between the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Great Lakes Loons. The Whitecaps forced a decisive Game 3 in the Eastern Division finals by beating the Loons 5-3 Monday. Will Allen went 3-for-4 with a double and 3 RBI for the Whitecaps.

The Loons are looking to advance to their first Midwest League Championship Series. The Whitecaps won their sixth league championship last year.

Posted in 2015 Playoffs, 2016 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

MWL playoffs: Three teams with chance to advance Monday

RHP Kevin Gadea struck out 11 for the Clinton LumberKings in their Game 2 win Sunday. (MiLB photo)

RHP Kevin Gadea struck out 11 for the Clinton LumberKings in their Game 2 win Sunday. (MiLB photo)

Three of the four teams left in the playoffs have a chance to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series with a win Monday. The fourth team would need a win Monday and Tuesday to go to the league finals.

After losing the series opener 9-3 Saturday, the Clinton LumberKings rebounded with a 6-1 win Sunday to tie the best-of-three Western Division finals at a game apiece, forcing a decisive Game 3 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels to be held at Ashford University Field on Monday night.

The LumberKings got a dominant start from RHP Kevin Gadea, who gave up only one unearned run on four hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out 11 batters before three Clinton relievers combined to fan six more over the next three innings.

Chris Mariscal led Clinton’s offense with two doubles and three runs batted in. Rayder Ascanio also drove in two runs for the LumberKings.

The Game 3 starting pitchers will be RHP Nick Neidert for the LumberKings and RHP Sean Poppen for the Kernels.

Loons take 1-0 lead in ED finals

The Eastern Division finals got underway at Dow Diamond on Sunday, as the Great Lakes Loons beat the West Michigan Whitecaps to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. The Loons rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 7th to make the score 4-1 in their favor, and it stayed that way.

Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision, but both pitched well. Whitecaps LHP Eudis Idrog gave up one run on two hits and three walks while striking out eight batters in five innings. Kernels LHP Caleb Ferguson gave up one run on six hits while striking out six batters and walking none in five innings.

Kernels RHP Ivan Vieitez got the win in relief after giving up only two hits and striking out three batters in three scoreless innings.

The Whitecaps will send RHP Sandy Baez to the mound for Game 2 of the series Monday at Fifth Third Ballpark. (The Loons hadn’t announced their starting pitcher as of when I wrote this.) The Loons need one win to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series. The Whitecaps need to win Monday and Tuesday to advance to the league finals.

Posted in 2016 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment