On Wednesday, the wild world of minor league baseball brought us a dramatic conclusion to a Triple-A no-hitter, and it also provided one of the most amazing comebacks in the history of professional sports. The Clinton LumberKings — Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners — scored 19 consecutive runs and overcame a 16-run deficit to defeat their Midwest League rivals the Burlington Bees — Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels — 20-17 in 12 incredible innings.
Burlington's scoring barrage started in the second inning when they plated seven runs on five hits, two walks and two hit batsman. The Bees added a single run in the fourth before Clinton finally broke through with their first tally in the fifth, but the game was seemingly put away in the bottom half when Burlington's offense exploded for a nine-spot. Ranyelmy Mendoza started it with a solo homer. Cambric Moye punctuated it with a grand slam.
At that point, the announced crowd of 558 probably began heading for the exits, but those who stayed were witness to something utterly ridiculous. With six runs in the sixth and five more in the eighth, Clinton had the deficit down to 17-12 entering the ninth inning. That set the stage for Marcus Littlewood, who capped another five-run rally with a grand slam of his own to tie the game at 17 and eventually send it into extra innings.
In perhaps the most stunning twist of the game, both teams went scoreless over the next two innings. However, in the 12th, Clinton continued their offensive fast break with three more runs to grab the decisive lead.
Ironicially, Justin Seager, the younger brother of Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager, drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th. He finished with four hits for Clinton while big brother collected three hits during the Mariners doubleheader split against the Oakland A's.
And here's the kicker for this wild game. Obviously, it was a long night for both team's pitching staffs, so LumberKings manager Scott Steinmann was forced to turn to an infielder, Lonnie Kauppila, in a save situation in the bottom of the 12th after using regular closer Emilio Pagan in the tie game in the ninth. And wouldn't you know, Kaupplia delivered a 1-2-3 inning on three harmless fly outs.
An appropriate ending to a bizarre game.
And really it's been a bizarre week for Clinton. This was actually their second huge comeback in a matter of days. On Saturday, they overcome an eight-run deficit to beat Wisconsin, 16-13.
"That is a crazy win. I've never been a part of something like that. The closest thing is four days ago," LumberKings manager Scott Steinmann said. "[Another comeback] says a lot. They weren't giving up. They stayed in it the whole time."
Quite the resilient squad he has.
A few other notes from Wednesday's game:
• Clinton outhit Burlington 22-13 and outhomered them 3-2.
• The 37 combined runs was not a Midwest League record. On August 29, 1956, the Dubuque Packers defeated Paris Lakers 36-12.
• The game featured only two umpires: Andrew Chesnut behind the plate and Brandon Butler in the field. Not unusual for a minor league game, but noteworthy under the circumstances.
• Amazingly, the game was completed in three hours and 28 minutes. That's what the official boxscore reads and the official scorer confirms.
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