The LumberKings completed their final goal of the regular season last night at Kane County, clinching the top playoff spot in the West Division with a 6-1 win over the Cougars. Eddie Menchaca’s crew had to wait out a two-our, 20-minute rain delay before finally hitting the field at 8:15 PM, but once they did, they were ready to go. Brad Miller went 3-for-5 with three RBI on the night (listen: Miller 2-run single 9.3.11), while right-handers Stephen Kohlscheen and Jessie Nava combined on a seven-hitter with just one run allowed. Kohlscheen improved to 5-3 with the win, getting some assistance from his defense (including Stefen Romero’s throw to John Hicks on a double-steal attempt, listen: Romero to Hicks Play on Espinal 9.3.11) as he pitched largely to contact all night. Nava struck out six over the final 3.0 innings including Yowill Espinal to end the game, cementing Clinton as the top second-half seed in the West (listen: Nava Strikes Out Espinal to Clinch Top Playoff Spot 9.3.11).
My interview guest tonight is Kohlscheen, the starting pitcher in each of Clinton’s last two wins including their August 28th victory over Beloit that clinched a playoff spot. He talks about last night’s outing including waiting out the two-hour-plus rain delay, pitching in back-to-back clinching games, facing Quad Cities in the first round of the playoffs, the club’s second-half turnaround and more.
Listen Here: Kohlscheen Interview 9.4.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 9.4.11 kingsnotes
Left-hander Anthony Fernandez was scheduled to start tonight, but has been given the game off to rest up. Left-hander Ryan Kiel (0-1, 3.24) will make just his second pro start in a spot role tonight instead. Kane County counters with right-hander Leondy Perez (7-13, 3.53). First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 PM, listen to the game on 1390kcln.com.
Things have been admittedly quiet over here at the LumberBlog as the LumberKings have dropped four-straight games since clinching a playoff berth last Sunday. The last series against Quad Cities, the team they’re likely to face in the first round of the postseason, saw the River Bandits sweep by a combined score of 34-16.
Last night, Stefen Romero beat out an infield single to score Brad Miller in the first inning, but the Bandits scored four unanswered runs — three coming against left-hander Tony Butler in an otherwise-quality outing — to take the game, 4-1.
The last regular-season series begins tonight for Eddie Menchaca’s crew as they take on the Kane County Cougars at Elfstrom Stadium. These two teams met up at the conclusion of the first half with nothing on the line as they finished fifth and sixth in the West. This time around, the Kings are looking to clinch the top playoff spot with a win in one of the three games. The Cougars, also headed to the playoffs, would need to sweep the series to move ahead of Clinton in the standings. Thus, if the Kings win tonight, they’re assured a first-round match-up with rival Quad Cities.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 9.3.11 kingsnotes
Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen (4-3, 4.70) started the last time the LumberKings won, but took a no-decision against Beloit. Still, he’s 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in six starts with Clinton this season. He’ll be opposed by Cougars’ right-hander Jason Adam (6-8, 4.22), a loser at the hands of the Kings back on June 19 when they finished the first half with a 1-0 victory on a Julio Morban home run to right field. Morban is in the lineup batting second tonight.
First pitch is at 6:00 PM, listen to the broadcast at 1390kcln.com. Hopefully the rain holds off tonight.
For one final time in this 2011 season, I’m venturing away from the game between the lines for an “Off the Diamond” interview segment. My guest tonight is Tyler Hildreth, LumberKings’ clubhouse manager since 2007.
Tyler will be leaving the LumberKings after five seasons for a new position within the University of Iowa’s athletic department. He’ll be in an equipment manager role for several of the Hawkeyes sports teams, including Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Volleyball. It’s a dream come true for Hildreth, a die-hard fan of Iowa sports.
Tyler looks back at five years with the LumberKings, talks about heading to Iowa and shares some advice for the next clubhouse manager on today’s interview.
Listen Here: Tyler Hildreth OTD Interview 9.2.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 9.2.11 kingsnotes
The LumberKings wrap up a three-game road series in the Quad Cities tonight, looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Left-hander Tony Butler (3-3, 3.16) gets the start for Clinton, while the River Bandits counter with left-hander Anthony Ferrara (12-7, 3.11). First pitch from Modern Woodmen Park is scheduled for 7:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
LHP Zach Phillips pitches for Baltimore, RHP Mark Hamburger pitches forTexason same night
In a season that’s already featured the Major League debuts of eight former Clinton LumberKings, Wednesday night saw the addition of two more. Left-hander Zach Phillips, a part of Clinton’s rotation in 2006 and 2007 made his big-league debut with the Baltimore Orioles, while right-hander Mark Hamburger, a reliever on the 2008 squad, debuted as well for the Texas Rangers.
Phillips, 24, was called up by the O’s from triple-A Norfolk after going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA and one save in 14 relief appearances with the Tides. He made his debut last night in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 13-0 loss toTorontoatOriolePark, pitching a scoreless inning with two hits, a walk and a strikeout of Mark Teahen.
Originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 23rd round out of Sacramento City College in 2005, Phillips pitched in parts of three seasons with the LumberKings from 2005 to 2007. After going 5-12 with a 5.96 ERA in 28 starts during the 2006 season, Phillips returned in 2007 and was a Midwest League All-Star, going 11-7 with a 2.91 ERA in 27 starts. In his final season withClinton, the left-hander struck out 157 batters while walking only 43 over 151.2 innings. Reaching as high as triple-A Oklahoma City in 2010, Phillips was dealt to Baltimore on July 19 of this year for minor-league infielder Nick Green.
Hamburger, 24, got the call to Texas after going 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 31 games, four starts for triple-A Round Rock. He debuted last night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, firing a scoreless ninth inning in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay.
Signed by the Minnesota Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Hamburger was traded to the Rangers in exchange for reliever Eddie Guardado on August 25, 2008. His first assignment in the Texas system came with the LumberKings, where he went 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA and three saves over four outings. Hamburger went 2-9, 4.75 with low-A Hickory in 2009, then split 2010 between high-A Bakersfield and double-A Frisco, going a combined 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 21 saves.
Both join right-handers Josh Lueke (Seattle), Tom Wilhelmsen (Seattle), Cody Eppley (Texas), Maikel Cleto (St. Louis) and Blake Beavan (Seattle), left-hander Anthony Vasquez (Seattle), infielder Kyle Seager (Seattle) and catcher Manny Pina (Kansas City) as former LumberKings to make big-league debuts this season. A total of 234 former Clinton players have now appeared in a Major League game dating back to the franchise’s inception in 1937.
The LumberKings saw last night’s regular-season home finale against Beloit washed out by rain, so not much new to report in Kings Nation today. Eddie Menchaca’s club has a magic number of four to clinch the West Division’s top playoff spot with Kane County, and they’ll try to decrease that number tonight in the opener of a four-game series at Quad Cities.
It’s a potential round one playoff preview tonight as the Kings and Bandits get together at Modern Woodmen Park. Left-hander Roenis Elias (3-1, 3.94) will start tonight after being pushed back because of the rain, and maybe it’s better that way. Elias is 3-0, 2.92 in his four road starts with Clinton. Recently-activated right-hander Seth Blair (6-3, 4.74) makes the start for Quad Cities. First pich is at 7:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.31.11 kingsnotes
The streak had to end sometime for your LumberKings, and that time came last night with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Beloit Snappers. After tasting only victory over the last eight days, the Kings fell behind 4-0 in the fifth as Nate Roberts delivered a bases-loaded RBI single to center and Michael Gonzales followed with a three-run homer into the right-field Lumber Lounge. Left-hander Anthony Fernandez gave up a total of five runs, one earned, over 5.2 innings in his first loss since July 17. Kalian Sams clubbed a three-run homer over the Coors Light Picnic Pavilion (listen: Sams 3-R HR (#17) 8.29.11) to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth, but that would be as close as Clinton would get all night. Snappers’ right-hander A.J. Achter picked up the win with three runs over 5.1 innings and 10 strikeouts.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.30.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineup: 8.30.11 lineup
With seven games remaining (including tonight’s regular-season home finale), the LumberKings have a magic number of five games to clinch the West Division’s top playoff spot over Kane County. Left-hander Roenis Elias (3-1, 3.94) hopes to get them one step closer to doing so. He’ll be opposed tonight by Beloit right-hander Blayne Weller (5-6, 4.23). First pitch (pending rain) is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
It was a Sunday for celebration for your LumberKings as they defeated Beloit 5-2 yesterday, extending their winning streak to eight-straight games and clinching a second-half playoff spot. Mike McGee singled home a run in the first inning (listen: McGee RBI single 8.28.11) and Stefen Romero added a sacrifice fly to put the Kings ahead 2-0, but the Snappers came back to tie the game against right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen on a solo home run by Lance Ray and RBI single by Nate Roberts.
The game stayed tied 2-2 until the seventh, when the Kings scored three runs with just one hit off the combination of Snappers’ right-handers Manuel Soliman and Adrian Salcedo. Mickey Wiswall reached first on an error by Ray in left and took second as Kalian Sams walked. Kevin Rivers bunted both over into scoring position, setting up the winning play. Anthony Phillips sent a chopper to Jairo Perez at third base and Perez threw home on Wiswall, but catcher Tobias Streich put a high tag down after Wiswall’s foot had crossed the plate. Carlos Ramirez added a safety squeeze bunt to score Sams and Julio Morban lined the only hit of the inning to score Phillips (listen: Morban RBI single 8.28.11).
Right-hander Matt Bischoff won for the fourth time in relief with 3.0 scoreless innings after Kohlscheen’s exit. Right-hander John Taylor finished off the game with his first Midwest League save, striking out Roberts on a 3-2 pitch (listen: Taylor First Save, Playoffs Clinched 8.28.11).
Weighing in on yesterday’s clincher is McGee, a pivotal contributor to the most-recent two wins. The Kings’ center-fielder talks about his home run to beat the Snappers on Saturday, the importance of scoring runs early during this tremendous two-week run, the team’s focus for the final eight regular-season games, the new-found confidence of the offense and more.
Listen Here: McGee Interview 8.29.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.29.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineups: 8.29.11 lineup
As McGee indicated, there’s still work to be done in these final eight games. The LumberKings lead Kane County by 4.0 games for the West Division’s top playoff spot and have a magic number of five to edge the Cougars. Left-hander Anthony Fernandez (7-3, 2.86) gets the start in game three of this four-game set against Beloit tonight, while the Snappers counter with right-hander A.J. Achter (4-7, 4.63). First pitch on “Ashford University and Clinton Community College Back to College Night” is scheduled for 6:30 PM. Listen online at 1390kcln.com.
The win streak is seven and the magic number is one after the LumberKings’ 6-2 win over the Beloit Snappers last night. Mike McGee had a huge performance in the three hole, going 3-for-4 with a game-winning solo home run in the fifth inning off left-hander Ryan O’Rourke (listen: McGee Solo HR (#4) 8.27.11). John Hicks extended his hitting streak to nine-straight games with a 2-for-4 game including a two-run triple off lefty Nelvin Fuentes that broke the game open (listen: Hicks 2-R triple 8.27.11). Left-hander Tony Butler allowed two runs over 5.2 innings and pulled off a nifty double play to help his cause (listen: Butler Double Play 8.27.11). Left-hander Ryan Kiel tossed 2.1 scoreless innings and right-hander Tyler Burgoon worked a scoreless non-save ninth to give Butler his third win of the year. O’Rourke fell to 5-4 with the loss.
The math today is simple, beat Beloit and a playoff spot is secured. The Kings also have a 3.0 game lead on Kane County for the top playoff spot in the West and are tied with Quad Cities for first place in the division, just their second day with a share of first all season (the other being June 24, the second day of this half).
Read more in today’s Game Notes: 8.28.11 kingsnotes
Today’s Lineups: 8.28.11 lineup
Usually I don’t do an interview on Sundays, but I caught up with Kings’ right-hander John Taylor (pictured) yesterday. Taylor, Seattle’s 22nd round pick out of the University of South Carolina in 2011, worked his third hold in the finale of the series at Cedar Rapids. He talks about his unique submarine-style delivery and when he picked it up, the pitches he throws from the drop-down angle, his experience with the two-time College World Series Champion USC Gamecocks, the playoff push with Clinton and more.
Listen Here: Taylor Interview 8.27.11
Taylor and the LumberKings go for the playoff berth today, first pitch at 2:00 PM. Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA in five starts, gets the call for Clinton today. Beloit has right-hander Manuel Soliman (7-10, 4.08 ERA) slated to start. Listen to the broadcast online at 1390kcln.com.
And yet it was almost still four as the LumberKings watched a 4-1 lead suddenly turn into a 4-4 tie heading into the 10th last night in Cedar Rapids. A pair of two-out hits from Julio Morban and another from Kevin Rivers helped the Kings establish the early lead behind right-hander Carter Capps, who gave up just one run over 5.0 innings and struck out seven. Right-handers John Taylor and Ben Versnik combined on 3.0 scoreless innings, but right-hander Jonathan Arias allowed a two-run single to Brian Hernandez in the ninth and issued a wild pitch on what was supposed to be the final strike of the game on Jean Almanzar.
Instead of Almanzar going down swinging and Arias locking down his 10th save, the ball kicked to the left of catcher John Hicks for a wild pitch, scoring Ricky Alvarez to tie the game. Arias recovered to strand runners at second and third, and in the 10th, Hicks lifted a sacrifice fly scoring Morban to put the Kings back ahead (listen: Hicks GW sac fly 8.26.11). Right-hander Jessie Nava then worked the Kernels 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th to secure Clinton’s sixth-straight win (listen: Nava Strikes out Cruz for 3rd Save 8.26.11).
Hicks saw a string of three-straight three-hit games come to an end as he went a mere 1-f0r-4 last night, but he still extended his hitting streak to eight games and notched the game-winning RBI in the latest “must-win game” for the LumberKings. Now, he joins me for the pregame interview for the second time this season. We talk about the wild pitch that scored the tying run in the ninth, his game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th, his recent offensive hot-streak (which he credits to work with hitting coordinator Jose Castro and Terry Pollreisz), catching Capps last night and more.
Listen Here: Hicks Interview 8.27.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.27.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineups: 8.27.11 lineup
It’s an action-packed opening night of the final homestand of the year as the LumberKings take on the Beloit Snappers. Once the nearest challenger to the Kings for the Wild Card spot, the Snappers are now fighting to catch up to Kane County as they trail the Cougars by 6.0 games for the West’s final playoff spot. Clinton can secure their trip to the postseason with two wins against the Snappers in this four-game set.
Left-hander Tony Butler (2-3, 3.16), 1-0 with a 0.57 ERA against the Snappers back in 2007, gets the game-one nod tonight. He’ll take on Beloit left-hander Ryan O’Rourke (5-3, 3.05). First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com. And, if you’re coming to the game, we’ve got post-game fireworks sponsored by WQAD-TV and post-game karaoke by Fat Dawgs Productions. Should be a good time on this final regular-season Saturday.
It’s another “show-and-go” night as the LumberKings finish off a three-game series at Cedar Rapids tonight. Thus, no pregame interview for you.
The Kings look for the sweep of the Kernels tonight after a 5-2 victory at Perfect Game Field last night. Clinton manufactured their way to the game’s first run in the third inning as Tim Morris walked, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Anthony Phillips and scored on a groundout by Robbie Anston. They never trailed after that. Left-hander Roenis Elias gave up two runs over 6.0 innings to win for the third time on the road this year, and Morris added an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, Mike McGee doubled home another run in the sixth, Phillips added a double to drive in a run in the seventh and John Hicks capped a 3-for-4 game with his second home run of the year (listen: Hicks Solo HR (#2) 8.25.11). Right-handers Matt Bischoff and Tyler Burgoon combined on 3.0 scoreless innings in relief of Elias.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.26.11 kingsnotes
The LumberKings are eight games up on Beloit for a playoff spot with 11 games remaining. Right-hander Carter Capps (1-0, 3.72) makes his third start tonight looking to get Clinton a step closer to clinching. The Kernels counter with right-hander Brian Diemer (9-10, 4.11). First pitch is at 6:35 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.