CLINTON, Iowa -- After a much needed off day, the Kane County Cougars (31-34, 70-62) pulled out a team victory to take the series opener against the Clinton LumberKings (30-35, 61-71) Wednesday evening from Ashford University Field.
The Cougars' offense showed up big in two separate innings as Yan Sanchez and Anfernee Grier first put the Cougars on the board in the top of the third inning. It was the top of the fifth inning that the Cougars used some two-out ingenuity to knock out Clinton starter Nick Wells (5-10). With two outs, Anfernee Grier laced a base hit into left field that he aggressively turned into a hustle double. The fast paced offense continued as Marcus Wilson hit a roller on the left side of the infield on a hit-and-run play. Wilson legged out an infield single and with Grier never stopping, scored for a 3-0 lead. After a pitching change, Ramon Hernandez belted an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for his team-leading 12th home run of the season.
All the Cougars' pitching staff needed was one run of support as Riley Smith (3-1) worked seven shutout innings before Trevor Simms finished the game with a couple of scoreless frames. Smith picked up his fifth quality start out of six appearances in the month of August. The right-hander also tied his season-high with eight strikeouts and no walks. The Texas native's ERA dropped to 2.63.
The Cougars and LumberKings continue the series on Thursday evening. Mack Lemieux (7-5, 4.70) will take the mound against Clinton's right-hander Ryne Inman (2-4, 6.42). First pitch from Ashford University Field is at 6:30 p.m.