COLUMBUS, Ohio- Runs were at a premium in the series opener as a strong outing from Michael Peoples and dazzling defense from Greg Allen wasn't quite enough as Indianapolis came away with a 3-1 win.
A warm Friday evening at Huntington Park ushered in the beginning of an important late May series between the top two teams in in the International League West Division. Columbus began the game in first place by a slim margin (.5 gm) in front of the visiting Indianapolis Indians.
Entering play tonight, the two teams have already met in two series for a total of seven times with the Clippers holding the upper hand 5-2 head-to-head. Indianapolis sent Dario Agrazal to the bump sporting a 2-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. Countering Agrazal for Columbus was Peoples, who entered his outing with a 3-1 record, including one win this season against Indianapolis earlier this month.
Columbus put early pressure on Agrazal in the first inning when the leadoff man Allen opened the inning with a single. A couple batters later, Brandon Branes laced a gapping double in which Allen was thrown out at home plate attempting to score on a well-executed relay by JB Shuck and Nick Franklin.
The Indians' first bit of offense took place in the third inning plating the first run of the game. Shuck struck a sharp line drive single to left field to lead off the inning. Followed by that, Pablo Reyes singled to right field, allowing Shuck to advance to third base. Indianapolis would take an early 1-0 lead when Franklin grounded into a double play allowing Shuck to cross the plate.
Bobby Bradley continued his power surge this week in the bottom half of the fourth inning by drilling a solo home run to even the score at 1-1. Bradley now has 11 home runs on the season, with this game being the third consecutive game with a home run. He now owns the team lead in big flies over teammate Trayce Thompson, who has 10.
The middle innings beginning in the top of the fifth inning featured Peoples working through jams and difference making defense from the speedy center fielder Allen. The Indians threatened to take the lead when Jacob Stallings hit a sharp double. With two outs in the inning, Reyes laced a single up the middle when Stallings was then gunned down at the plate when Allen fired a perfect strike to Tim Federowicz, who tagged out Stallings to end the threat.
Indianapolis threatened to score again in the top of the sixth inning. With one out in the inning, Allen made a spectacular diving catch robbing Jason Martin of an extra base hit. Peoples was able to work through a first and third one out jam with consecutive strikeouts of Corey Dickerson and Will Craig.
Peoples pitched to a no decision throwing seven innings on seven hits, one walk, four strikeouts and one earned run. His ERA now sits at 3.23, lowering it from 3.53. When times got tough on the mound, he battled through multiple jams.
Columbus had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the seventh inning when Barnes, who finished the game 2-for-4, started things off with a single. He went to steal his third base of the season before the threat was ended on strikeouts of Bradley, Thompson and Flaherty.
The visitors took the lead for good in the top of the eighth inning on the strength of a two-run double by Kevin Kramer. Agrazal registered a strong outing of his own for Indianapolis allowing only five hits over six innings of work with four strikeouts with one earned run.
Reliver Tyler Lyons got the win improving to 2-0 while Richard Rodriguez earned a two inning save for Indianapolis while Josh Smith suffered the loss in relief falling to 5-1 on the season. The Clippers fall to second place in the West division for the first time since April 18th.
Up Next: The four-game series will resume tomorrow evening with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Asher Wojciechowski will take the mound looking to improve on his stellar 3-1 record with a 2.85 ERA.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.