Louisville Bats shortstop Paul Janish smacked a pair of late inning solo home runs, including the go-ahead blast in the top of the ninth, to help the Bats capture a 5-4 win over the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park in the 2012 season opener.
Janish's first blast came in the seventh, when he greeted Clippers' reliever Frank Hermann with a home run to push a narrow Louisville lead to 4-2.
The two-run lead was short lived, however, as the Clippers broke even in the bottom of the inning off reliever Nick Christiani. After a critical two base error in left field, Ezequiel Carrera blasted what initially seemed like a three-run home run to give Columbus the lead, but the hit was ruled a two-run double, and Christiani kept the go-ahead run from crossing the plate.
Bats' reliever Ron Mahay (1-0) held the lead with a perfect eighth inning to earn the victory, while J.J. Hoover struck out two in a flawless ninth to get the save.
Louisville never trailed in the game, as Danny Dorn drew the first blood of the 2012 season in a big way when he lifted a two-run homer to right that put Louisville up 2-0 in the second inning. It's no surprise that Dorn would be the first Bats' player to go deep; as he led the team last season with 18 home runs.
Another familiar face over the past few years for Louisville, Chris Valaika, blasted a solo home run to right an inning later to give starting pitcher Jeff Francis a three-run cushion to work with. Valaika joined Janish as the two Louisville players to earn multi-hit games in the opener.
Although Francis kept the Bats in front for his entire six innings of work, the situation looked dicey in the fourth, when five straight Clippers reached base. After an RBI single by Lonnie Chisenhall got Columbus on the board, Ryan Spilborghs hit what appeared to be a game-tying double. Bats' left fielder Daryl Jones came up throwing, however, and Janish's relay throw to the plate cut down the tying run, keeping Louisville in front 3-2.
Francis went six innings for the Bats, allowing seven hits, a walk, and two earned runs to go with three strikeouts. Although Christiani was dinged with a blown save, the two runs allowed were unearned.
Game two of the Bats' 2012 season will take place on Friday evening at 7:05PM at Huntington Park. RHP Brett Tomko, a Major League veteran who signed with the Reds in the offseason, will throw for Louisville, while RHP Kevin Slowey, who played with the Twins last season, will be on the bump for the Clippers.