LOUISVILLE, Ky -- With 2013 Tribe MVP and the International League's hits leader Matt Hague on the mound, Louisville's Denis Phipps smashed a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Bats a 7-5 victory over the Indianapolis Indians in the 2013 regular season finale on Monday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field. In the defeat, top prospect Gregory Polanco collected his first career Triple-A hit, run and stolen base with the Indians.
Having used four relievers following a nearly two hour rain delay in the fourth inning, the Tribe turned to two-time MVP Matt Hague to try and close out a 5-2 win on Sunday afternoon in Louisville. After allowing back-to-back singles to begin the inning, Hague actually struck out SS Kristopher Negron and LF Josh Fellhauer to get with-in one out of finishing out the win.
However, back-to-back walks to 1B Mike Hessman and 3B Mike Constanzo forced in a run and set the stage for Phipps. The Bats right fielder continued his dominance against the Indians this season, by launching a walk-off grand slam to finish the year with five of his nine total home runs against the Tribe this season.
Tribe starter Andy Oliver began the game by blowing away Louisville batters from the get go, striking out seven in just 3.2 innings, before heavy rain forced him from the game after a nearly two hour delay. By recording seven of his eleven outs via the punchout on Monday afternoon, Oliver finishes the 2013 season as the International League's strikeout leader with 138 in 124.1 innings.
The Indianapolis offense gave Oliver some early support with two scores in the first frame. LF Darren Ford led off the game with a double to left, before quickly being brought plateward on a base hit by SS Chase d'Arnaud. Then in his second career Triple-A game, top prospect Gregory Polanco followed with his first carer Triple-A hit, a base hit to right that advanced d'Arnaud to third.
Polanco then proceeded to steal his first career Triple-a base to move into a tie with former Tribe OF Felix Pie with a Pirates organization best 38 stolen bases on the season. Finally, RF Brett Carroll plated the Indians second first inning score with a sacrifice fly that plated d'Arnaud to give the Indians the early 2-0 advantage.
The two first inning scores capped a year full of first frame fireworks for Indianapolis, which finished the 2013 season outscoring their opponents 96-68 in the first inning this season.
The Indians would take their 2-0 advantage into and past the rain delay in the fourth inning, before adding to it with another score in the sixth. Polanco led off the frame with an infield single, moved to second on a base hit by 1B Russ Canzler and came plateward for his first career Triple-a run on base knock by Carroll.
Louisville would get on the board with single scores in the seventh and eighth on an RBI groundout from Jason Donald in the seventh and Tribe miscue in the eighth. However, Indianapolis responded with singles scores of their own in the eighth and ninth on an RBI single from Ivan DeJesus in eighth and sacrifice fly from d'Arnaud in the ninth.
Despite the Bats ultimately taking the win, the Tribe bullpen put together a solid showing heading into the 2013 Governor's Cup playoffs, as Ryan Reid (1.1 IP, SO), Graham Godfrey (1.0 IP), Duke Welker (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, SO) and Zack Thornton (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 SO) combined to allowed just one earned run over 4.1 innings of relief. For their efforts, Godfrey earned his second hold of the season, while Welker picked up his third hold and Thornton his first.
After winning their second straight IL West Division championship the Indians now head to first round of the Governor's Cup playoffs to take on the Durham Bulls. The series will begin with a 7:05 p.m. contest in Durham on Wednesday, September 4.
The game will be carried on WNDE 1260 AM, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.
Following two contests in Durham on September 4 and 5, the Indians will return home for anywhere from one to three playoff contests at Victory Field from September 6-8. Indianapolis Indians playoff tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here, through the Indians' single-game ticket hotline at 317-269-2282 or by visiting the Victory Field Box Office.
The Indians will kick-off their playoff celebration on Friday, Sept. 6 at Victory Field. Festivities for the event will include a free special edition playoff T-shirt for the first 2,500 fans and a post-game fireworks show to cap off the evening.
Fans can also enjoy Monday Dollar Menu pricing of $1 for hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, popcorn and potato chips during all home playoff contests.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.