Some photos from a recent Snappers-LumberKings game

I was in the Beloit area for an event not related to baseball last Thursday, so after it ended I stopped at Pohlman Field to catch most of the second game of a doubleheader between the Snappers and the LumberKings. Clinton dominated most of the game — starting pitcher Jake Walters allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out eight in four scoreless innings — but Beloit rallied in their final frame to make it a closer contest in the end.

The LumberKings took a 3-0 lead into the 7th and final inning after getting RBI hits from Jerar Encarnacion, Marcos Rivera and Connor Scott.

Marcos Rivera bats for the Clinton LumberKings.

Reliever Tyler Mitzel returned to the mound in the 7th for his third inning of work, and retired the first two batters he faced. Then, with only one out left to go, he gave up a pair of infield hits. The runners moved up on a wild pitch before Mitzel walked Cooper Goldby to load the bases.

Clinton LumberKings RHP Tyler Mitzel

Pinch-runner Marcos Brito replaced Goldby as the runner at first, and then ran into the last out of the game. Joseph Pena hit a two-run single to make it a 3-2 game, but rightfielder Encarnacion threw out Brito as the runner arrived at third base.

Mitzel was awarded the win.

Joseph Pena bats for the Beloit Snappers. He hit a two-run single in the 7th inning.

The LumberKings celebrate their win.

The Snappers won the first game 11-6.

All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

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Vallimont, Hulsizer named Midwest League players of the week

Clinton LumberKings RHP Chris Vallimont is the Midwest League pitcher of the week. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Clinton LumberKings RHP Chris Vallimont and Great Lakes Loons outfielder Niko Hulsizer respectively were named the Midwest League’s pitcher and offensive player of the week for May 20-26.

Vallimont made two starts during that time, giving up only one hit, one unearned run, and three walks while striking out 18 batters in 13 innings. He earned a win on May 21 when he took a perfect game into the 7th inning against the Beloit Snappers (read about that here), and got a no-decision Sunday despite one-hitting the Burlington Bees for six innings (read about that here). The Miami Marlins prospect is 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 17 walks in 59.1 innings/10 starts for the LumberKings this season. His strikeout total leads the Midwest League.

In seven games during the specified period, Hulsizer batted .313 (10-for-32) with five homers, two doubles, nine runs batted in, and seven runs scored. The Los Angeles Dodgers prospect currently is tied with Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson for the MWL lead in both HR (13) and RBI (41), and is batting .280 through 43 games with the Loons this season.

Smeltzer sharp in MLB debut

Former Loons LHP Devin Smeltzer brought his A-game to the mound for his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out seven batters in six shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He got a no-decision, but the Twins won the game 5-3.

Smeltzer, a 23-year-old survivor of childhood cancer, made 10 starts for the Loons in 2017. He went 2-3 with a 3.78 ERA, 57 strikeouts and 12 walks in 52.1 innings. He was one of three players the Dodgers traded to the Twins for MLB second baseman Brian Dozier last July. Dozier, a former Snappers shortstop (2010), now plays for the Washington Nationals.

Former Great Lakes Loons hurler Devin Smeltzer pitched six shutout innings for the Minnesota Twins in his MLB debut Tuesday. (Associated Press photo by Jim Mone)

Reynolds first to 100 Ks

Tuesday’s LumberKings game notes included an item of infamy about first baseman Sean Reynolds. His first of four strikeouts Sunday was his 100th of the season, making him the first professional ballplayer to reach the century mark in Ks in 2019. The Marlins farmhand now has 105 strikeouts and is batting .195 through his first 50 games this season; he needs only 29 more strikeouts to surpass his 2018 total of 133, which he racked up in 76 games with the short-season Batavia Muckdogs.

Clinton LumberKings first baseman Sean Reynolds (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

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LumberKings’ stadium gets new name

The logo for NelsonCorp Field was designed by Ryan Foose of Fooser Sports.

The 82-year-old home of the Clinton LumberKings has a new name after NelsonCorp Wealth Management bought naming rights to the stadium through the end of the 2021 season.

The ballpark, originally known as Riverview Stadium, is getting new signage this week bearing its new name: NelsonCorp Field.

NelsonCorp Wealth Management is a multi-state investment firm that began in Illinois and now includes Clinton as one of its office sites.

The ballpark’s new identity includes a logo designed by Ryan Foose of Fooser Sports. The designer also created the logos for the LumberKings’ Copa identity, the Clinton Elotes.

This is the third time naming rights have been sold for the stadium. It was known as Alliant Energy Field from 2002 to 2011, and Ashford University Field from 2012 to 2018. The ballpark was being referred to as LumberKings Stadium this year prior to announcement of the new naming rights deal on Monday.

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Kernels pitch third Midwest League no-hitter of season

After losing the first game of their Wednesday doubleheader 5-4, the Cedar Rapids Kernels bounced back with a 9-0 win in the second game — a game in which the CR hurlers held the Burlington Bees hitless for all seven innings of the contest.

Austin Schulfer and Jose Martinez combined to toss the Midwest League’s third no-hitter of the season, with starter Schulfer pitching the first five innings and reliever Martinez on the mound for the last two frames. Schulfer struck out seven and walked one; Martinez struck out two and walked none.

The Kernels scored four runs in two different innings — the 2nd and the 6th — and got a three-run homer from catcher Chris Williams. They also got a defensive gem from third baseman Andrew Bechtold, who, according to the Kernels game story, “made a backhand grab and sent a jump throw to first base on a bounce to retire (Jordyn) Adams and close the (3rd) inning.”

The no-hitter was the ninth pitched at Cedar Rapids’ Veterans Memorial Stadium — five by the Kernels and four by their opponents. Four of the no-nos were pitched in May, three in April, and one each in July and August.

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Vallimont strikes out 9 as Clinton nearly no-hits Beloit

Clinton LumberKings right-hander Chris Vallimont pitched seven hitless innings against the Beloit Snappers on Tuesday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Miami Marlins prospect Chris Vallimont pitched seven hitless innings as the Clinton LumberKings nearly no-hit the Beloit Snappers at Pohlman Field on Tuesday afternoon.

Vallimont took a perfect game into the 7th inning, but walked two batters and threw a wild pitch in his final frame. Still, he left the game with a no-hitter and shutout intact. Reliever C.J. Carter struck out the side in the 8th and retired the first batter he faced in the 9th before Snappers second baseman Joseph Pena singled for Beloit’s only hit of the game. Carter then retired the next two batters he faced to end the game.

The LumberKings won 5-0, scoring all five of their runs off Snappers starter Bryce Nightengale in the top of the 4th inning. Thomas Jones hit a three-run homer, the third roundtripper in seven games for the Clinton leftfielder.

Clinton LumberKings outfielder Thomas Jones is heating up at the plate, batting .346 with three homers in his last seven games. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Jerar Encarnacion had two hits, including an RBI double, for the LumberKings. Vallimont struck out nine batters and lowered his ERA to 2.70 in nine starts this season.

Clinton’s pitching gem came one day after LumberKings RHP Humberto Mejia took a no-hitter into the 7th inning of the first game of a doubleheader against the Snappers on Monday. Mejia allowed two hits and an unearned run, struck out eight batters and walked none in eight innings of the 6-1 Clinton win. The LunberKings also won the nightcap, 2-1.

MWL players of the week

Cedar Rapids Kernels RHP Andrew Cabezas and Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson respectively were named the Midwest League’s pitcher and offensive player of the week for May 13-19.

Cabezas made one start during that time, a win against the Quad Cities River Bandits on May 15. He allowed only one hit, struck out nine, and walked none in seven innings. The Minnesota Twins prospect is 1-3 with a 3.31 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32.2 innings/six starts this season.

Benson batted .391 (9-for-23) with three homers, five RBI, and three stolen bases in six games during the specified period. This is the second time he was named the MWL offensive player of the week this season, previously earning the honor for April 15-21. Overall this year, the Cleveland Indians farmhand is batting .266 with 10 homers, nine doubles, one triple, 31 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 39 games. This is his second season with the Captains, after he batted .180 with 22 HR, 58 RBI and 12 SB in 123 games in the MWL last year.

Lake County Captains OF Will Benson swings during last year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby. He finished second in the contest. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

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