When Midwest League managers selected a postseason all-star team last month, the only player chosen from the Clinton team which posted the league’s best record was left-handed reliever Spencer Herrmann.
LumberKings manager Mitch Canham was fine with that.
“That’s who we are and who we’ve been all season,’’ Canham said. “We haven’t been a team that has relied on one or two all-star-type guys. What we’ve had is an all-star team.’’
Chris Mariscal leads Clinton with a .301 batting average, while Alex Jackson tops the home run charts with 11, Logan Taylor has recorded a team-leading 75 RBI and Dalton Kelly leads the LumberKings with 141 hits and 70 runs.
That kind of depth extends to the pitching staff, where Clinton’s team earned run average of 3.11 is the second best in the Midwest League and where the LumberKings have recorded four of their league-high 19 shutouts during the month of August.
Together, Clinton has built the best record in the Midwest League, breaking a 53-year-old franchise record for victories in a season by finishing the regular season with an 86-54 mark.
Eleven of those victories have come in walk-off fashion and are part of a collection of 26 one-run victories and an 8-4 record the team has compiled in extra-inning games this season.
“The impressive thing to me about this team has been that when our backs are against the wall, they’ve shown ability to turn it up a notch,’’ Canham said. “Every single man on our team has done that and they’ve had each other’s backs all season.’’
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Clinton finished one game out of first place in the Midwest League’s Western Division during the first half, building a 38-31 record. The LumberKings followed that by winning the second half in the division at 47-23, finishing five games ahead of Cedar Rapids.
“We’ve just continued to play our game,’’ infielder Conner Hale said. “Coming out of spring training, you could already feel a pretty good chemistry coming together on this team and that hasn’t changed. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We know what it takes to win when the games are close.’’
Postseason play for Clinton begins at 6:30 p.m. today, when the LumberKings host Peoria in the opening game of a best-of-three West Division semifinal series at Ashford University Field. The series shifts to the Chiefs’ Dozer Park on Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.
Clinton has a 10-5 record against Peoria this season, including a 5-1 record in the second half and a 4-1 record in games decided by a single run.
“They’re a solid club with a lot of guys who can play,’’ Canham said. “They have some players who are exciting to watch and they have strong arms in their rotation and in the pen. It’s what you would expect see in the postseason, a good opponent.’’