Clinton LumberKings 8 - Great Lakes Loons 9 (A)
Great Lakes wins series, 3-1
The final affiliate standing in 2016 had its season come to an end Sunday afternoon, as the Clinton LumberKings fell to the Great Lakes Loons in Game Four of the Midwest League Championship, 9-8. Great Lakes won three straight games after dropping the opener to capture the title.
The final game was a wild one, with both teams trading haymakers for the majority of the afternoon. Clinton struck first when Alex Jackson took Loons’ starter Yadier Alvarez deep in the top of the second. A two-RBI double from Chris Mariscal would make it 3-0.
The lead didn't last long, however, as the Loons responded with a RBI double from Jake Henson and a two-RBI single from Matt Jones in the bottom of the inning to tie things up. An inning later, a RBI single would give the Loons a 4-3 lead. The four runs of damage came off of starter Nick Neidert, who turned in his first poor start of the postseason. Neidert lasted only 3.2 innings, surrendering the four runs on five hits and two walks.
Thankfully, Neidert was taken off the hook for a loss immediately after exiting when Dalton Kelly stroked the LumberKings' second home run of the day, a blast to left field to make it 4-4. The LumberKings would recapture the lead in the sixth on a Mariscal two-run homer and a wild pitch that brought home Luis Liberato.
Leading 7-4, the LumberKings turned to Matt Walker, who surrendered four runs without ever recording an out. Joey Strain was tasked with limiting the damage, but he too surrendered a run and the LumberKings found themselves trailing 7-9 by the time the dust cleared.
A Liberato sac fly would bring the score to 8-9, but the LumberKings would never get any closer, going down in order in the eighth and ninth. The loss was a bitter end to a phenomenal season for the LumberKings, who finished the regular season with an 86-54 record.
The loss not only brings an end to the LumberKings' season, it also brings a complete end to the 2016 MiLB season for the Mariners, and what a season it has been. We'll have more closing comments in this week's State of the Farm on Tuesday. For now, I leave you with all the playoff finishes for the affiliates:
Champions: 2 (AZL Mariners, Jackson Generals)
Championship Runner-up: 2 (Clinton LumberKings, Everett AquaSox)
Semi-Finals: 3 (Tacoma Rainiers, Bakersfield Blaze, DSL Mariners)