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MWL Quarterfinals – Game 2 Notes

The LumberKings opened the 2011 Midwest League Playoffs at home with a 9-5 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits last night.  Bandits’ first-baseman Jonathan Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with five RBI on the night including a three-run homer in the first inning off left-hander Tony Butler that ensured Quad Cities would never trail.  Oscar Taveras drove home two more runs as part of a three-run second inning, giving the Bandits a 6-0 lead.  Mike McGee doubled home Anthony Phillips in the third (listen:  McGee RBI double 9.7.11) and John Hicks blasted a two-run homer down the left-field line in the sixth (listen: Hicks 2-R HR (#1) 9.7.11) to cut the deficit to 6-3 and chase right-hander Boone Whiting from the game.  RBI from Hicks and Julio Morban brought the Kings to within two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Mickey Wiswall missed out on a golden opportunity with the bases full and one out.  Bandits’ right-hander Aidan Lucas got Wiswall to bounce back to the mound, then turned a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat.  Right-hander Tyler Burgoon surrendered an RBI single to Taveras and RBI double to Rodriguez in the top of the ninth, and Clinton couldn’t touch left-hander Dean Kiekhefer in the final at-bat.

Thus, Eddie Menchaca’s LumberKings are down 1-0 in the best-of-three series as things shift to Modern Woodmen Park.  The Davenport, IA home of the Bandits wasn’t kind to the Kings this season as Quad Cities won seven of the nine meetings, but the only path to the West Division Championship Series is back-to-back road wins.  Fortunately, left-hander Anthony Fernandez has excelled in road parks this year, going 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 games, 10 starts.  He’ll earn the pivotal Game 2 start tonight, while the Bandits counter with left-hander Anthony Ferrara (13-7, 3.03).

Tonight’s Game Notes:   9.8.11 kingsnotes _quarterfinals.gametwo_

A bonus note that is encouraging for the Kings tonight…Clinton went 0-6 in the opening games of playoff series from ’07-’10, but followed up with wins in Game 2 four times in that span, winning three of the six series.  Last year, the Kings went 5-1 in elimination games in the playoffs, including back-to-back road wins at Cedar Rapids in the West Division Quarterfinals.  Meanwhile, Quad Cities held a 1-0 lead on Kane County returning home last year, but were eliminated with two-straight home losses to the Cougars.  Will history repeat itself?  Listen to the broadcast at 7:00 PM on 1390kcln.com to find out.

-DL

Playoff Preview: Eddie Menchaca

T-minus 3 hours, 30 minutes until Game 1 of the West Division Quarterfinals.  Eddie Menchaca’s LumberKings begin the quest for Clinton’s first Midwest League title since 1991 as they open a best-of-three series against the rival Quad Cities River Bandits.  Left-hander Tony Butler (3-4, 3.26) gets the start tonight at Alliant Energy Field, while the Bandits will counter with right-hander Boone Whiting (5-2, 2.41).

Menchaca joins me for tonight’s interview and weighs in on the LumberKings’ second-half turnaround, the match-up against Quad Cities, the starting rotation for the series (Butler, left-hander Anthony Fernandez, right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen) and his own playoff memories as a player.

Listen Here:  Menchaca Interview 9.7.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  9.7.11 kingsnotes _quarterfinals.gameone_

Starting Lineups:  9.7.11 lineup

First pitch is at 6:00 PM, make sure to wear your green LumberKings shirts for a “green-out” at AEF tonight.  If you’re not making it down to the ballpark, tune in on AM 1390 KCLN and 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Second-Half Highlight Reel

With Game One of the Midwest League West Division Quarterfinals just over six hours away, it’s time to get hyped up.  As promised, I’ve completed a second-half highlight reel featuring a few of the best moments of Clinton’s run to the West’s top playoff seed.

Relive the sounds of Stefen Romero’s home run to reach a 13-game hitting streak in Burlington, the final out of Taijuan Walker’s complete-game win over Great Lakes, Anthony Phillips’ steal of home in Wisconsin, Carlos Ramirez’s walk-off two-run single against Peoria, John Taylor’s playoff-clinching save against Beloit and more.

Listen Here:  2011 Second Half Highlight Reel (Finished)

Game notes, pregame interview, Game One lineups and more coming up later today.

-DL

Regular-Season Finale Notes (9/5)

I had a second-half highlight reel all planned out to be finished for today as the LumberKings wrap up their regular-season schedule in Kane County, but I conveniently left my laptop power cord in the Elfstrom Stadium pressbox last night.  Thus, you’ll have to wait for that clip til’ tomorrow.

I did get game notes done, just under the wire.  I don’t think I could have slept tonight if I saw a 139-game streak broken on the last day.  So, enjoy my hastily-prepared notes:  9.5.11 kingsnotes

It’s meaningless baseball today for the Kings as they wrap-up the series with the Cougars.  Left-hander Roenis Elias (3-2, 6.32) starts for Clinton against Cougars’ right-hander Jason Mitchell (3-0, 1.05).  The game starts at 1:00 PM, listen at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Stephen Kohlscheen (Vol. 2)

Clouds overhead at Elfstrom, but likely no two-our rain delays tonight.

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.

-DL

Saturday Notes (9/3)

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.

-DL

Off the Diamond: Tyler Hildreth

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.

-DL

Two More Former Kings Make MLB Debuts

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.

-DL

Wednesday Notes (8/31)

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

-DL

Tuesday Notes (8/30)

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.

-DL

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