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Tuesday Notes (8/23)

The LumberKings stand a game out of first place after defeating Kane County in a rout, 12-1 last night.  Showing no hesitance against Midwest League ERA leader Greg Billo, the Kings scored six runs in the first inning to take quick command of the game.  John Hicks enjoyed a career-best 3-for-4 game including two doubles and four RBI (listen: Hicks 2-R double 8.22.11 ) and Stefen Romero went 3-for-4 with his 21st double and two RBI to lead the way (listen:  Romero RBI double (#21) 8.22.11).  Brad Miller, playing in just his third game as a pro, chipped in with a 3-for-3 game including his first-career extra-base hit (listen: Miller Double (First Extra-Base Hit) 8.22.11) and first-career RBI (listen:  Miller Sac Fly (First RBI) 8.22.11).

Left-hander Tony Butler won for the first time since July 8 as he allowed a run on four hits over 6.1 innings and struck out eight.  Right-hander Ben Versnik lowered his ERA from 10.80 down to 6.00 with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.23.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:  8.23.11 lineup

The Kings close the four-game series with the Cougars tonight with right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen on the mound (3-3, 5.14)…he’s 3-0, 1.96 over his four starts with Clinton.  Kane County counters with right-hander Yordano Ventura (3-4, 4.54).  First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Catching Up with Forrest Snow

While we get ready for the Major League debut of former LumberKings’ lefty Anthony Vasquez with the Mariners tonight, I have a special treat for you.  Former Kings’ right-hander Forrest Snow, now also knocking on the Big League door with the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, joined me yesterday for a phone interview.  

Snow, the closer for the Kings during their run to the West Division title last season and this year’s Opening Night starter, made the jump from high-A High Desert to Tacoma in mid-July as an extra arm for a maxed-out bullpen.  After striking out nine over 6.0 innings of relief in his PCL debut at Salt Lake on July 24, Snow found his way on to the roster for a more permanent stint.  The Seattle native struck out seven in his next relief outing and eventually joined the rotation on August 9.  His best start to-date came in front of friends and family at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium, an outing in which he limited Omaha to a run on four hits over 7.0 innings and struck out nine in a no-decision.

He’s now back into the bullpen, but still pitching just one step away from reaching the team he grew up rooting for.  And, clearly still humble about the whole experience, Snow shared some time with me yesterday.

Snowman talks about getting the call to the Rainiers, advice he received from former LumberKing Kyle Seager in his first outing, the tremendous start at Cheney Stadium, being reunited with former Clinton pitching coach Dwight Bernard, watching former Kings’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez dominate the PCL (he’s 3-0 in four starts) and plenty more. 

Listen Here:  Forrest Snow Phone Interview 8.22.11

Snow did officially go back into the pen last night, but pitched 2.0 scoreless innings at Reno in a game ultimately lost by the Rainiers, 7-6 in 12 innings.   His current stint in Tacoma (0-2, 5.40 in 6 games, 2 starts) looks to be just the beginning of big things to come for the man who squeezed the final out for Clinton’s 2010 West Division championship.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Carter Capps

After dropping the opener 7-1 to Kane County on Saturday night, the LumberKings completely flipped the script on the Cougars yesterday, winning 7-1.  Carlos Ramirez ensured the Kings would not trail from the game’s first at-bat onward as he slugged a leadoff home run (listen: Ramirez Leadoff HR (#5) 8.21.11), Clinton’s second of the series.  Kevin Rivers added a two-out RBI single to center in the second to open a 3-0 lead (listen:  Rivers RBI single 8.21.11), and after right-hander Carter Capps allowed his only run of the day in the third, Kalian Sams homered for his team-lead-tying 16th time and Stefen Romero doubled home a pair (listen:  Romero 2-R double (#20) 8.21.11) to break open a six-run advantage.  Right-handers John Taylor and Tyler Burgoon combined for 4.0 scoreless innings to help Capps secure his first professional victory.

Capps, Seattle’s supplemental third-round pick, has seemingly always been ahead of the curve.  After starting out his college career as a catcher, Capps made a conversion to the mound as a red-shirt freshman at Mount Olive College (NC), learned a slider and went 10-0 in his first season.  This past year, he went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA for the #2 ranked Trojans, taking home the NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year award while leading his team to the National Semifinals.  While waiting to sign with the Mariners, he prepared for the pros with a 4-1, 0.60 stint for Harwich of the Cape Cod League.  Now, just two games into his pro career, he’s 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA for the playoff-hungry LumberKings.

Capps talks about his first professional win, the catcher-to-pitcher conversion, early work with pitching coach Rich Dorman, stepping in to Taijuan Walker’s rotation spot, his fantastic 2011 season at Mount Olive College, pitching in the Cape and more on tonight’s interview.

Listen Here:  Capps Interview 8.22.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.22.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:  8.22.11 lineup

The four-game series with the Cougars continues with the pivotal game three tonight.  Left-hander Tony Butler (1-3, 3.38) faces Kane County for the first time since May 24, 2007 when they were still an Oakland affiliate.  He’s countered by Midwest League ERA leader, Cougars’ right-hander Greg Billo (9-3, 1.56).  First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen to the game online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Sunday Notes (8/21)

The LumberKings managed just a run on a solo homer from Stefen Romero last night, falling 7-1 to Kane County in the opener of this pivotal four-game series.  Cheslor Cuthbert and Brett Eibner each went yard against left-hander Roenis Elias, tagging him for five runs over 5.0 innings.  Right-hander Matt Bischoff gave up the final two runs over the final 4.0 innings.  Cougars’ right-hander Leondy Perez pitched 5.0 scoreless innings while right-handers Alex Rivers and Nick Rogers combined for a run on one hit over 4.0 innings of relief.  Mariners’ second-round pick Brad Miller (pictured) made his debut at shortstop, going 1-for-3 with an infield single in his first-career at-bat.

Today’s Notes:  8.21.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineup:  8.21.11 lineup

The series continues with day baseball today as right-hander Carter Capps (0-0, 5.79) makes his second start and home debut for the Kings.  The Cougars counter with right-hander Santiago Garrido (2-4, 5.86).  First pitch is at 2:00 PM, listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

In-Game Interview: Eric Staples (Sterling All-Stars Head Coach)

The 2011 World Champion Sterling All-Stars were honored at Alliant Energy Field last night.

The LumberKings welcomed the 2011 Little League Softball World Series Champions, the Sterling All-Stars (Sterling, IL) to the game last night.  The entire team and coaching staff were honored before the game against Kane County, just two days after defeating Midway (Waco, TX) 7-5 in the final game in Portland, Oregon.

I was joined in the booth by Sterling’s head coach, Eric Staples.  An assistant on the 2008 Sterling team that finished third, Staples guided this year’s group to six wins in the tournament.  Sterling, the Central Regional Champion, outscored opponents 58-9 and overcame a 3-0 deficit in the title game to unseat the 11-time champion Waco squad.  Staples talks about his team and their incredible run to the title, just the second ever by a team from Illinois.

Listen Here: Sterling All-Stars Head Coach Eric Staples In-Game Interview (LLSB World Champs) 8.20.11

It was an honor having the team and their supporters at the game last night, it’s not often you get to honor the World Champions of a sport.  Special thanks to LumberKings’ Director of Operations Mitch Butz for setting it all up.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Rich Dorman (Vol. 4)

The LumberKings won the series and kept a 4.0-game Wild Card lead on Beloit in-tact with a 5-2 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits last night.  Kalian Sams went 2-for-4 with a double (listen:  Sams RBI double 8.19.11) and a solo home run (listen:  Sams Solo HR (#15) 8.19.11), but it was Anthony Phillips’ two-out infield single scoring Mickey Wiswall in the fourth inning that stood as the winning run (listen: Phillips RBI infield single 8.19.11).  Left-hander Anthony Fernandez had a short 5.0-inning outing by his usual standards, but struck out a career-high 10 batters in that time and allowed just two runs to the Bandits (listen:  Fernandez Career-High 10th K, 8.19.11).  Relievers Jessie Nava, Ryan Kiel and Jonathan Arias combined on 4.0 scoreless innings in relief of Fernandez, with Arias picking up his eighth save.

With another great outing by Fernandez, more lock-down relief from Kiel and Arias and a host of new arms to talk about, it’s time to catch up with LumberKings’ pitching coach Rich Dorman for tonight’s interview.  He gives plenty of insight on Fernandez, right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, Mariners’ third-round right-hander Carter Capps, tonight’s starter Roenis Elias, Arias and his dominant second half and more.

Listen to the 11-minute-long full interview here:  Dorman Interview 8.20.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.20.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:  8.20.11 lineup

Mariners’ second-round pick, Brad Miller makes his professional debut tonight at shortstop, batting seventh.  Elias (2-0, 2.89) makes his fourth start for the Kings as he goes up against Kane County right-hander Leondy Perez (6-11, 3.35).  The game begins at 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Friday Notes (8/19)

After a difficult loss on Wednesday, the LumberKings rebounded for a 7-5 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits last night at Alliant Energy Field.  Kevin Rivers erased a 4-3 fifth-inning deficit with his 10th home run of the year, a three-run shot to right-center off Bandits’ right-hander Zach Russell (listen:  Rivers 3-R HR (#10) 8.18.11).  Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen wasn’t untouchable, but exited with a 6-4 lead and the bullpen combination of Ben Versnik, Ryan Kiel and Jonathan Arias managed to hold a slim lead.  Kiel left with two on in the ninth and Arias walked two to force in a run, but stranded the bases loaded to end the game as he struck out Nick Longmire, induced Oscar Taveras into a pop-up and fanned Jonathan Rodriguez (listen:  Arias Strikes Out Rodriguez for 7th Save 8.19.11).

The Wild Card lead is back to 4.0 games as Beloit lost 2-0 at Kane County last night.  The Kings’ offense received an added boost today as Mariners’ second-round pick, shortstop Brad Miller (pictured) was added to the roster.  Miller (wearing #9) took a brief BP today, but likely won’t be in action tonight after flying in from his Seattle meet-and-greet.  We’ll probably see his pro debut in the next few days.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.19.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineup:  8.19.11 lineup

Ace lefty Anthony Fernandez (5-3, 2.84) gets the rubber match call tonight, and he’ll look to continue a hot trend.  He’s 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA and nine quality starts in his last 11 outings.  Fernandez faces off against the ace of the Bandits, right-hander Boone Whiting (3-1, 2.02).  First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

OTD Interview: Kirby Rock

You know him as one half of our on-field emcee duo for the Chicken George Fling, the John Deere Tractor Race, The Oaks Chip Shot and more, he’s Kirby Rock, second-year Administrative Assistant for the LumberKings.  It’s Kirby’s last day working for the LumberKings prior to heading back to school at Central College in Pella, IA, so now’s the time to get him for tonight’s “Off the Diamond” segment.

Learn more about Kirby’s outstanding High School baseball career at Calamus-Wheatland, what he’s learned in two seasons working for Director of Operations Mitch Butz, which promotion he enjoys the most, his aspirations to be a personal trainer and more.

Listen Here:  Kirby Rock OTD Interview 8.18.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.18.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:  8.18.11 lineup

The LumberKings will try and rebound from last night’s shocking 12-10 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits in game two of the series tonight.  Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen (2-3, 4.94), 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts for the Kings, takes the hill against Bandits’ right-hander Zach Russell (6-9, 4.24).  First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Mickey Wiswall (Vol. 2)

Prior to yesterday’s off-day, the LumberKings completed a three-game sweep of the Peoria Chiefs at O’Brien Field, posting a three-run eighth and winning 9-5.  Mickey Wiswall led the way with a 2-for-4 game including a two-run homer (listen:  Wiswall 2-R HR (#10) 8.15.11) and game-winning RBI double (listen:  Wiswall go-ahead RBI double, 50th RBI 8.15.11), driving in three.  Carlos Ramirez fell a triple shy of the cycle in a 3-for-5 game that included his second home run as well.  Right-hander Carter Capps worked four scoreless innings to start his pro debut but then was touched for three runs over his final 0.2 innings in a no-decision.  Right-hander Jessie Nava twice gave up tying runs, but also left the bases loaded with a huge strikeout of Arismendy Alcantara (listen: Nava Leaves them Loaded 8.15.11 ).  Nava improved to 2-4 with the win in relief and lefty Ryan Kiel locked down his first save with two scoreless innings.

Wiswall joins me for the first time since early June for tonight’s pregame interview.  We talk about his game-winning performance on Monday, his growth as both a hitter and a first-baseman in his first full year in the Mariners’ system, the offense beginning to turn a corner, being part of playoff runs both last year and this year, his goals for the remainder of the season and more.

Listen Here:  Wiswall Interview 8.17.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.17.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineup:  8.17.11 lineup

With the regular-season’s final off-day behind us, the LumberKings begin a challenging seven-game homestand against Quad Cities and Kane County, the top two teams in the West Division.  The Kings trail Kane County by 3.0 games for the top playoff spot, yet still lead Beloit by 4.0 games for the Wild Card.  Left-hander Tony Butler (1-3, 3.43) faces Quad Cities for the first time since June 5, 2007 when they were still known as the Swing.  Meanwhile, the offense will attempt to stay hot against River Bandits’ right-hander Trevor Rosenthal (6-7, 3.61).  Game time is 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Follow me on Twitter at @davelezotte and the LumberKings at @LumberKings.

Tonight’s Interview: Tim Morris (Vol. 2)

The Kings made it back-to-back wins in Peoria on a sunny Sunday afternoon yesterday, scoring eight runs (their most in one game since an 8-4 win vs. Wisconsin on July 28) to defeat the Chiefs, 8-2.  Tim Morris went 2-for-5 with a season-high four RBI on the day, driving in the game’s first run with an RBI smash scored an error on first-baseman Richard Jones and adding a “nail in the coffin” three-run homer inside the right-field foul pole (listen: Morris 3-R HR (#5) 8.14.11).  Anthony Phillips, Julio Morban and Stefen Romero all added an RBI each, supporting 6.2 innings of two-run ball from left-hander Roenis Elias in his second win of the year.  Right-hander Jonathan Arias picked up save #6 with three strikeouts over 2.1 innings.

Coupled with Beloit’s 3-0 loss to Burlington yesterday, the LumberKings are back to 3.0 games ahead of the Snappers for the West Division Wild Card spot.  A glance back in the history books to a year ago and Clinton is in relatively the same spot as the 2010 club through 119 games.  John Tamargo’s team was 27-22, tied for third (along with Kane County for the top playoff spot) and holding a 2.0 game lead on Beloit for the Wild Card.

Given yesterday’s breakout performance and his presence on both the 2010 and 2011 teams, it’s a good time to catch up with Tim Morris.  Seattle’s 11th round pick out of St. John’s University in 2009 is hitting .257 with five HR, 40 RBI and 18 steals in his sophomore year with Clinton.  He talks about yesterday’s game and the home run, his week-long stint with high-A High Desert, coming back into a different role with the LumberKings, this year’s pursuit of a playoff spot and more.

Listen Here:  Morris Interview 8.15.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  8.15.11 kingsnotes

In a season that has already seen shortstop Marcus Littlewood, INF/OF Stefen Romero, left-hander James Paxton, right-hander Keli’i Zablan and catcher John Hicks make their affiliated professional debuts with Clinton, we’ll see another highly-anticipated debut tonight.  Right-hander Carter Capps, the supplemental third-round pick (121st overall) by Seattle this year, makes his first start in the black-and-green tonight.  Capps went 14-1, 1.75 in 20 games at Mount Olive College (NC) this year, then dominated in the Cape Cod League to the tune of 4-1, 0.60 in 16 games with Harwich.  He’ll be opposed by notorious LumberKings-Killer, Chiefs’ left-hander Austin Kirk.  Kirk is a pretty average 5-8, 3.43 on the season, but 3-0, 1.11 against the Kings including that nine-inning no-no on July 4. 

The Kings owe Kirk some payback, and it begins with the first pitch at 7:00 PM here from O’Brien Field.  Listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Follow me on Twitter at @davelezotte and the LumberKings at @LumberKings.

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