Game 2 Highlights
The 2011 season came to an abrupt end for your LumberKings last night as they saw a 3-1 lead slip away in a 5-3 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits. The loss gives the Bandits a two-game sweep of the West Division Quarterfinals series, they’ll now play the winner of the Kane County/Burlington series to determine this year’s West Division champion.
Eddie Menchaca’s Kings scrapped with the Bandits last night, getting a run right away in the first inning on Mike McGee’s first-career playoff home run, a bomb off the center-field batter’s eye (listen: McGee Solo HR (#1) 9.8.11). Quad Cities tied the game with help from an error in the second inning, getting a two-out RBI single from Colin Walsh. Left-handers Anthony Fernandez and Anthony Ferrara dueled to a 1-1 tie over the first five innings (listen: Fernandez Fans Gil 9.8.11), and it would be the LumberKings that took a 3-1 advantage in the top of the sixth. Stefen Romero clubbed a solo home run to left (listen: Romero Solo HR (#1) 9.8.11) and Anthony Phillips added a two-out double scoring John Hicks (listen: Phillips RBI double 9.8.11), giving Clinton their largest lead of the entire series.
However, the Bandits would score three times against Fernandez in the bottom of the sixth, including an RBI double by Jonathan Rodriguez, game-tying sacrifice fly by Nick Longmire and game-winning RBI single from Walsh. Walsh would walk and score on a Jonathan Arias wild pitch for insurance in the ninth inning, and that was the end of the hopes for the Kings. Left-hander Dean Kiekhefer worked a scoreless ninth for the second-straight game, finishing off the series.
And so, the season ends far short of the goal this club had established after finishing the first half at 24-46. Still, what a remarkable job done by Menchaca, pitching coach Rich Dorman and hitting coach Terry Pollreisz in turning this team 180 degrees around with a lot of the same pieces as the first half. The pitching staff jumped from 16th to 8th in the Midwest League in the second half, while the hitters heated up in time to reel off eight-straight wins, sending the Kings to the playoffs for the 10th time in the last 14 years.
Thanks again to all who have been reading the daily updates here at The LumberBlog all season long. This blog ranked #24 out of the top 50 ProBlogs in August, and I couldn’t be more proud to see so much interest in a team located in such a small market. With the onset of the offseason, there won’t be as much daily content here, but in the near future I’ll be rolling out the full 2011 season wrap-up and player bios and probably composing a few “Top 10″ lists like I did last year. Stay tuned for all of that, and of course, if you have any ideas for content or words of any kind you’d like to pass my way, you can do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It still feels weird to say on a bright and sunny day perfect for baseball, but enjoy the start of your offseason. I’ll do my best to enjoy mine.