Walker, Urrutia homer as Tides even semis

Clippers turn triple play, but Norfolk rallies in Game 2 behind Wilson

Christian Walker led the league in homers and RBIs after the All-Star break. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com | September 11, 2015 10:08 PM

Norfolk's first postseason home runs in 10 years were enough to overcome a triple play in a game that began almost 24 hours earlier.

Christian Walker and Henry Urrutia went deep in support of Tyler Wilson, who pitched five innings of solid relief Friday afternoon as Triple-A Norfolk beat Columbus, 6-1, to even the best-of-5 International League semifinals at one game apiece.

"It was great to see Hank swing the bat so well, it gave our team a boost and some momentum offensively," Walker said. 

Walker, the Orioles' No. 5 prospect, connected on a two-run blast off reliever Toru Murata in the fifth after Urrutia slugged a go-ahead two-run shot off the 30-year-old right-hander in the third.

"The at-bat before, I didn't see much, getting hit by a pitch. He had thrown a couple cutters, one low and in, and it backed my feet up a little bit. The next one, he hung out over the middle of the plate," Walker said. "It's good, it's good to hit the road coming off a win, and a good win at that. We get some momentum going into these next few games."

Wilson (1-0) struck out three and held the Indians affiliate to one run on four hits and a walk to help the Tides bounce back from a series-opening 5-3 loss.

Friday's game actually began a night earlier but was suspended due to heavy rain in the middle of the second inning. Murata took the mound when play resumed and got an early gift when Norfolk's Audry Perez hit into an around-the-horn triple play to end the bottom of the second. It was the Clippers' first triple play since May 14, 1994.

"The ball went right over the bag, it was a nice backhanded play. [Third baseman Yandy Diaz] stepped on it and threw to second. It's not routine by any means, it was a good play," Walker said. "We turned a similar one earlier this year, so I've now been a part of two this season."

Game 3 is Saturday at 6:35 p.m. in Columbus, where the Clippers' Will Roberts takes on Elih Villanueva in a battle of right-handers.

"It's good to get one of those games at home, with the advantage they have -- only two out of five are home for us -- so it's good to hit the road with a win," Walker said. "I'm looking forward to some good games in Columbus."

Walker, who led the International League with 13 homers and 44 RBIs after the All-Star break, also walked after hitting a pair of singles in Wednesday's series opener. The 24-year-old, who has played in seven Major League games over the last two seasons, hit .257/.324/.423 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs in 138 games for the Tides. A 2013 Futures Game All-Star, he ranked third in the Orioles system in homers and RBIs, a year after batting .288 with 26 homers and 96 RBIs -- both career highs -- between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk.

Urrutia's opposite-field blast in the third was the Tides' first postseason long ball since Prentice Redman hit one on Sept. 5, 2005 against Toledo.

Audy Ciriaco provided Columbus' offense with a two-out homer in the sixth. Murata (0-1) surrendered five runs on eight hits and a walk over four innings.

Jarrett Grube started and threw a scoreless first for the Clippers, while Norfolk's Chris Jones worked around four walks and a hit in two frames before stormy weather rolled in.

"It wasn't that bad, we only played 1 1/2 innings yesterday, so it was like preparing for a new game today," Walker said.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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