INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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It’s always great to get one by yourself, but the no-hitter the Clinton LumberKings had Tuesday night was four times as nice.
Pitchers Pedro Vasquez, Joey Strain, Calvin Schiraldi and Matt Walker combined to blank Beloit, 2-0, at Clinton’s Ashford University Field. It was first no-no of the season in the Midwest League.
“It was everything I’ve dreamed of,” Clinton pitching coach Peter Woodworth told MiLB.com. “I’m glad they got to experience it. It doesn’t happen a whole lot.”
Clinton had a combined no-hitter last season against the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Veterans Memorial Stadium, as Daniel Misaki, Kody Kerski and Troy Scott teamed. The last no-no at Ashford University Field came in 2013 by Victor Sanchez, who passed away in the offseason.
Vasquez pitched the first three innings here, then was taken out, as the parent Seattle Mariners are monitoring his season innings count. Strain worked the fourth, fifth and sixth without allowing a hit or walk.
Schiraldi struck out four of the seven batters he faced, negotiating through the seventh and eighth. Walker came on in the ninth, got comebackers from the first two hitters and struck out Jesus Lopez, though he reached on a wild pitch.
Trent Gilbert followed with a fly to left to end Clinton’s 25th all-time no-hitter.
“It was pretty crazy. That was the most pressure I’ve felt in a long time,” Walker told MiLB.com. “I tried not to look at the scoreboard, but it was pretty tough. Everybody just came in and did their job, and I felt a little bit of pressure trying to finish the job for those guys.
“I was at a loss for words, just kind of ecstatic at that moment. I looked to (catcher Arturo) Nieto and he was running after me as fast as he could, so I was a little scared and then I got my foot stepped on, but yeah, it was amazing.”
A stitch over three weeks remain in the Midwest League’s regular season, so the playoff race is beginning to take shape. Peoria (first place) and Clinton (second place) secured postseason berths in the Western Division in the first half, as did South Bend (first place) and West Michigan (second place) in the Eastern Division. What they do in the second half is essentially meaningless from a playoff standpoint.
Going into Saturday night, Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities held down the two available second-half playoff berths, with C.R. 2 1/2 games up on Quad Cities and three ahead of Burlington. Wisconsin was five back of the Kernels.
In the Eastern Division, Bowling Green and Lansing would be your playoff qualifiers, with Lake County four games back of Lansing. The playoffs begin Wednesday, Sept. 7.
|Colin Rea (Cascade): Traded to the Miami Marlins, the right-handed starter went into Saturday with a 5-5 record in 19 games, 18 starts.|
|Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie): Has struggled since being recalled to Cincinnati Reds and given everyday outfield spot. Hitting .179 in 36 games, with two home runs and 12 RBIs.|
|Matt Dermody (University of Iowa): Relief pitcher has a 2.08 earned run average in eight appearances since being promoted to Triple-A Buffalo (Blue Jays). Has 1.54 ERA in 40 games at three levels this season.|
|Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Continues to regroup at high-A Frederick (Orioles), where he has 1.59 ERA in three starts. That includes 13 strikeouts and only five hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings.|
|Mitch Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Has not allowed an earned run in his last two starts for Class A West Virginia (Pirates), totaling 11 innings. Has 2.72 ERA and 7-5 record in 21 starts this season.|
|Derrick Loveless (Solon): Outfielder hitting .229 in 41 games at Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays), with seven homers and 17 RBIs.|
|Jake Yacinich (University of Iowa): Shortstop is on the disabled list for Class A Burlington (Angels). Was hitting .241 in 51 games, with four home runs and 27 RBIs.|
|Joel Booker (University of Iowa): Outfielder has reached base via hit or walk in all eight games since being promoted to Rookie-level Great Falls (White Sox). Hitting .303 in 41 games overall, with 24 RBIs and 29 stolen bases.|
|Kris Goodman (University of Iowa): In 19 games for low-A Greensboro (Marlins), outfielder has .154 batting average and an RBI.|
|Nick Roscetti (University of Iowa): Shortstop continues to be on the disabled list for high-A Brevard County (Brewers).|
|Eric Toole (University of Iowa): Outfielder hitting .263 in 21 games for Shortseason-A Boise (Rockies). Has six RBIs.|
|A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids Washington): First-round pick of Oakland Athletics has accumulated 16 1/3 innings in six starts for Shortseason-A Vermont. Has 0-2 record and 3.31 ERA, striking out 19.|
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