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Clippers take wild finale from Bats, 13-1201/24/2013 11:51 AM ET
Chad Fischer / Louisville Bats
COLUMBUS, Oh. - The Bats showed plenty of fight, but the Columbus Clippers offense tallied just enough runs Thursday afternoon at Huntington Park earn the win. Louisville scored four in the top of the ninth, but ultimately fell to Columbus, 13-12, as the teams combined for 30 hits and seven home runs. Neftali Soto hit his second grand slam of the season, the Bats' fifth of the year and fourth since returning from the All-Star break. Henry Rodriguez scored three runs and drove in two while notching his first four-hit game with the Bats, including a solo home run. A 39-minute rain delay after the first inning would be just the beginning of the madness.
The Bats swatted 12 of the game's 30 hits, but were let down early by their defense, which proved to be costly. The typically strong Bats defense committed three errors-two of which came in the bottom of the third and led to two unearned runs against starting pitcher Chad Reineke.
With two outs and a runner on in the third, Felix Perez dropped a fly ball in right field and Rodriguez, playing shortstop, threw a ball away allowing the Clippers to knot the game at 3-3 after three innings of play. Both plays would have ended the inning before Reineke finally struck out 2011 International League MVP Russ Canzler to end the frame.
Reineke (3-7, 4.90) took the loss, going 4.1 innings and allowing four earned runs (six total) on nine hits. He did not walk any batters and struck out four. He gave up a pair of long balls.
The Clippers pounded out a season-high 18 hits against Bats pitchers. Shortstop Gregorio Petit went 4-for-4 with three runs and five RBI, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.
Things began to get interesting when the Clippers scored six in the bottom of the fifth to take a 10-4 lead. Bats manager removed Reineke in favor of Carlos Fisher after two of the first three batters of the inning doubled. With one out and Fisher in, a Chris Valaika throwing error on an infield hit by Canzler allowed Matt LaPorta to score. Fisher then walked Tim Fedroff and gave up an RBI hit to Jared Goedert. After a strikeout of Matt Pagnozzi, Petit launched a three-run homer out to left, his fifth of the year, to give Columbus the six-run lead.
Fisher recorded just two outs and gave up four earned runs on four hits and a walk.
Soto's slam in the seventh brought the Bats right back into the game. With one out, Denis Phipps doubled and Willie Harris and Rodriguez followed with singles off Matt Langwell. Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh opted to bring in Tyler Sturdevant to face Soto. Soto responded by lining the second pitch from Sturdevant into the first row of the bleachers in left for his second grand slam of the season to cut the deficit to two.
The Bats bullpen, however, would not be able to hold the score in the bottom half. After pitching a perfect sixth, Kanekoa Texeira allowed singles to Fedroff and Goedert to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Pagnozzi moved the runners, Bell called on Nick Christiani out of the Bats' pen to face Petit. Christiani would not fare well against Petit, however, as he sent a two-run double to center. A Jason Donald sacrifice fly to score Petit would result in Columbus' 13-8 lead.
The Bats would not go quietly as their first five hitters reached in the top of the ninth. Soto came up with the bases loaded again, but this time drew a walk against Bryan Price to force in a run and cut the deficit to four at 13-9. Dan Wheeler then came on and gave up a two-run single to Mike Costanzo and a sacrifice fly to Valaika to bring the Bats within one at 13-12. Perez, however flied out and Cody Puckett struck out to end the game, earning Wheeler his first save of the year.
Costanzo and Puckett came out of the rain delay hot, each hitting solo home runs in the top of the second. It was Costanzo's seventh and Puckett's fourth. Rodriguez added his second home run, also a solo shot to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth. The Bats' four home runs on the day tied a season high and was the third time they had totaled four long balls. Soto drove in five runs for the second time this season and his 5 RBI are the highest total by a Bats player in a game this year.
Clippers starter David Huff (5-4, 4.97) earned the win, going 5.2 innings and allowing five hits and three earned runs on the Bats' three solo home runs. He walked four and struck out three.
Donald and Goedert added solo home runs for the Clippers.
The Bats return home tomorrow to begin an eight-game homestand at Louisville Slugger Field, starting with four against the Pawtucket Red Sox. RHP Pedro Villarreal (3-6, 3.73) gets the ball for the Bats and will be opposed by RHP Brandon Duckworth (8-2, 3.35) for the PawSox. Fans can enjoy fireworks following the game.