Stellar Clinton Pitching Stymies Beloit in double-header
BELOIT, WI - The Snappers' five-game series with the LumberKings, caused by a rainout in early April, started on a dismal note on Monday night. Beloit dropped both games of the double- header, with Clinton coming out on top in the first game, 6-1, as well as the nightcap, 2-1.
The Snappers were for the most part solid on the mound, but the offense struggled to get going during chilly conditions. Beloit also had to deal with red-hot Clinton right-hander Humberto Mejia, who turned in a dazzling Game 1 performance.
The first game of the twin bill flew by through the first seven innings. Snappers starter Reid Birlingmair (2-0, 1.90 ERA) and his mound opponent Mejia (4-0, 2.16 ERA) were both sterling, exchanging zeros through the first six innings. Birlingmair was pulled after the sixth, having allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six.
Mejia, meanwhile, continued to dominate the Snappers' lineup. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Joseph Pena broke up the bid with a leadoff single. Beloit was unable to capitalize, however, and the contest continued into extra innings.
Snappers reliever Eric Marinez, who escaped a jam in the seventh to preserve the shutout, ran into trouble in the eighth. Marcos Rivera's single to lead off the inning broke up the scoreless tie, driving in Ricardo Cespedes, who was placed on second base to start the inning due to Minor League Baseball's extra-inning rules. Marinez then walked Marlins No. 27 prospect Christopher Torres, putting runners on first and second with no outs. When Brayan Hernandez laid down what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt, Marinez fielded the ball and attempted to nab Rivera at third base, but instead threw the ball into Beloit's bullpen in left field, leading to another Clinton run.
The next batter, Marlins No. 5 prospect Connor Scott, was intentionally walked, which preceded Marlins No. 10 prospect Will Banfield's two-run single. The LumberKings added two more later in the inning on a Demetrius Sims single, with the second run scoring courtesy of botched rundown by Beloit's defense.
The Snappers broke up Clinton's shutout thanks to Skyler Weber's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, but that was all they would get before Mejia finished the eight-inning complete game. Mejia allowed just the unearned run on two hits while walking none and striking out eight.
The second contest on Monday night held up as a pitchers' duel all the way through. Sean Reynolds' RBI fielder's choice in the first inning was the only knock on Beloit righty Michael Murray (0-2, 8.10 ERA), making his second start in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Murray allowed two hits and no walks while punching out eight in just four innings.
Clinton's other run came in the sixth inning, when a Scott single knocked in Cespedes, who had reached on a triple.
The LumberKings utilized a bullpen game during the nightcap. Tyler Jones (2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 K) and Sean Guenther (3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 6 K) provided scoreless ball before Max Schuemann scored on a Cam Baird wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh.
Although the Snappers were held to just two runs on the day, they did have a few solid offensive performances in the second game: Schuemann and Brallan Perez each went 2-for-3.
Beloit will look to bounce back in the third game of their weather-induced five-game series with Clinton. Right-hander Bryce Nightengale (1-1, 4.24) gets the ball for the Snappers, while the LumberKings counter with Chris Vallimont (2-3, 3.11 ERA).
The Beloit Snappers are a member of the Midwest League and have been the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics since 2013. For more ticket information, contact the Snappers office at (608) 362-2272 or visit our website, www.snappersbaseball.com
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