Late Rally Falls One Run Short
CLINTON, IA - Late offense by the Clinton LumberKings fell one-run short in a series opening loss with the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Thursday night. Home runs from Thomas Jones and Will Banfield were not enough for Clinton (19-19) to overcome early offense by the Kernels (18-22).
Chris Vallimont started for the LumberKings and pitched himself into trouble in the opening inning. He walked the first two batters he faced but threatened to exit the jam with no runs allowed after setting down the next two Kernels' batters. Jared Atkins then slugged a three-run home run to right to put Cedar Rapids on top for good.
In the top of the third inning, the Kernels added to their lead with a two-run rally off Vallimont (2-3). Yeltsin Encarnacion doubled to open the frame and scored two batters later on a double play and Ben Rodriguez capped the scoring for Cedar Rapids with a home run that hit off the scoreboard in left center field.
Vallimont allowed no more runs over his time out and turned in a seven-inning performance for the third time this season. Although he was hung with the loss he allowed no more runs following the third inning and struck out six while walking one.
Clinton waited until the bottom of the fifth to push across their first run of the night against Cedar Rapids starter Blayne Enlow. Christopher Torres tripled to open the inning and scored two batters later on a Connor Scott RBI ground out to second.
Enlow (4-3) matched Vallimont with seven innings of work and earned the win for his time out. Thomas Jones lead off the seventh with a home run to left - his fourth of the year - but was the last run allowed by the Kernels' starter. Enlow scattered six hits for the most part while walking one and striking out six.
The LumberKings inched closer in the bottom of the eighth with a Will Banfield home run to left that went for his third of the year.
In the bottom of the ninth, Clinton pulled to within one and put the tying run on third. Sean Reynolds walked to open the inning, Thomas Jones singled, and a flyout to left advanced the runners to second and third. Christopher Torres chased home Reynolds with an RBI groundout off Carlos Suniaga that moved Jones to third as the tying run. Zach Scott was set down as the final out with a ground ball to second.
Suniaga earned the save for his time out - his first of the year. Over his two innings of work he allowed two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out one.
The LumberKings will meet the Cedar Rapids Kernels for second game of their four-game series starting on Friday night. Clinton will throw right-handed pitcher Alberto Guerrero (2-0, 3.10) while the Kernels will counter with righty Tyler Palm (1-3, 4.43). Fans looking to listen to the game can hear Erik Oas on the call at 100.3 FM WCCI and online at lumberkings.com via the tunein radio ap at 6:15 p.m. (CDT) with the pregame show.
Fans make sure to enter the Allegiant Airlines flight voucher raffle for a chance to win a flight voucher for two. Allegiant Airlines is the official airlines of Minor League Baseball.
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