LOUISVILLE, Ky.-Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Bats scored five runs, capped off by Denis Phipps' walk-off grand slam, to win the season finale. Indianapolis' Matt Hague, making his first career professional pitching appearance, was responsible for the loss. Entering today's game, Louisville was just 2-60 when trailing after the eighth inning.
Monday's matinee starting pitching matchup featured Louisville's Yohan Pino (5-7, 3.22) opposed by Indianapolis southpaw Andy Oliver (5-4, 4.18). Pino entered the game 6th in the International League, while boasting a 1.96 ERA when facing the Indians.
The Indians struck first, opening the game with three consecutive hits. Darren Ford led off the game with a double down the left field line, scoring on a Chase d'Arnaud single. D'Arnaud advanced to third on a Gregory Polanco single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Carroll. Pino would settle down, striking out two batters to limit the first inning damage.
Mike Hessman led off the second inning with a double to left field, for his team-leading 32nd double this season. The extra-base hit marked Hessman's eighth double in the last 12 games. Oliver did hit Nevin Ashley, but struck out Mike Costanzo and Phipps, while getting Jason Donald to ground out to end the inning.
The Indians threatened in the fourth, but Pino induced a double play to get out of the jam. With one out, Lucas May and Ivan De Jesus hit back-to-back singles to give Indianapolis runners on the corners. Brian Bocock then grounded to out to Pino, and Hessman threw out May at the plate, as he attempted to score on the play.
The game entered a rain delay in the bottom of the fourth. Hessman drew a leadoff walk; Costanzo and Phipps each popped out before the weather forced the umpires to pull the players off the field. After a one hour and 44 minute delay, Ashley struck out to end the inning.
The postponement cause both sides to turn to their bullpen; Louisville's Nick Christiani relieved Pino, while Indianapolis turned to Ryan Reid to close the book on Oliver. The final line for Pino was 4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER and 3 K's. Oliver finished with 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB and 7 K's.
Josh Ravin took the mound for Louisville in the sixth as the Indians scored a run to take a 3-0 lead. Polanco, Russ Canzler and Carroll led off with consecutive base hits to get a run in without recording an out. Ravin escaped further trouble, by retiring the next three batters in order.
Louisville got on the board in the seventh, thanks to singles by Costanzo and Phipps to start the inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Donald grounded to short to plate Costanzo. Duke Welker, who began the inning in relief for the Indians, walked Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan LaMarre to load the bases. Kristopher worked the count full, but eventually struck out on a curve ball to end the rally.
Loek Van Mil took the mound in the eighth for the Bats, allowing Indianapolis to regain a 4-1 lead on three consecutive two-out hits by Carroll, May and De Jesus.
Louisville mounted a two-out rally of their own in the home half of the eighth, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Costanzo belted a two-out double into right field. Phipps grounded to third, but a throwing error by De Jesus allowed Costanzo to score. A pitch then hit Ashley for the second time of the game, this time by Zack Thornton's offering. Donald later grounded out to finish the inning.
Indianapolis tacked on an insurance run in the ninth. Matt Hague and Darren Ford opened up the inning with singles, and Hague was later driven in on a sacrifice fly from d'Arnaud. Trevor Bell would get the next two Indians to ground out, keeping the score at 5-2.
After pinch hitting and scoring a run in the top of the inning, Hague took the mound in the ninth. Hague, an everyday infielder, allowed five runs in the ninth to record the loss. Matt Kennelly and LaMarre singled to start the rally. Negron and Fellhauer followed with back-to-back strikeouts, as the comeback appeared to falter. Hessman and Costanzo both drew walks, and Phipps ended it on the walk-off blast to deep left field. Phipps' home run was Louisville's third grand slam this season.
Louisville finishes the season with a record of 69-75; marking just the fifth time in franchise history a team has tallied losing records in back-to-back years. Indianapolis (80-64) won the International League west division, and will play Durham in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday. The Bats did finish the season with 13-10 head-to-head record with the Indians.
Many of the Bats' attention now turn to Cincinnati, as the Reds began their annual round of September call-ups over the weekend. Among the players going to Cincinnati are Billy Hamilton, Neftali Soto, Henry Rodriguez, Henry Rodriguez, Curtis Partch, Derrick Robinson and Corky Miller. Nick Christiani is also expected to get the call-up after pitching today in Louisville.