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Bats Fend off Feisty Clippers in Ten Innings, Win 7-6

July 11, 2009
Louisville, KY - The Louisville Bats led for eight innings tonight, gave it up in the ninth, but recovered to defeat the Columbus Clippers 7-6 in ten innings on Saturday night. The game was played at Louisville Slugger Field in front of a late-arriving crowd of 9,374.

With one out and two on in the bottom of the 10th, Chris Valiaka hit a soft line drive to left field, scoring pinch runner, Luis Bolivar to give the Bats the victory.

Justin Lehr, recently named an International League All-Star, was in search of his IL-leading 12th win of the season tonight. He started off the game excellently as he faced the minimum number of batters through the first four innings. Through four, he had given up one hit and one walk, but was aided by a double play and a caught stealing, which led to him facing only 12 batters. He also struck out the side in the top of the second inning.

Lehr ran into some trouble in the top of the 5th. He gave up three consecutive hits to start the inning. Matt LaPorta and Wes Hodges hit back-to-back singles, followed by a ground rule double by Andy Marte, plating the first run of the game for the Clippers. Lehr was able to retire the next three batters in a row to get out of the inning with the lead still in tact.

Lehr set the Clips down in order in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to give him 12 in a row retired. Trevor Crowe singled on a swinging bunt to lead off the top of the ninth. In doing so, he extended his hitting streak to 17 games, which is currently the longest active hitting streak in the IL.

Lehr finished the game throwing eight-and-one-third innings, surrendering five hits, four runs, one walk, while striking out six.

Pedro Viola came in to relieve Lehr and could not hold the lead. He walked Jordan Brown to put two men on, and LaPorta hit a three run home run to tie the game at six. Viola was bailed out by Valaika's hit in the 10th, and the strong relief pitching of Jared Burton.

Burton (2-0, 1.50) came in to the game in the 9th after Viola had given up the home run. He pitched one-and-two-third innings, giving up one hit and one walk to pick up the win. He also made a key defensive play to end the top of the 10th inning. He fielded a soft chopper in the infield, and after fumbling the ball, made the unassisted putout at first base.

The Bats were able to get on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Drew Stubbs walked to lead off the game, followed by a single by Drew Sutton. With one out, Louisville franchise record holder for RBI's, Kevin Barker picked up another as he singled in Stubbs to make it a 1-0 game.

Wes Bankston led off the bottom of the second with his 12th home run of the season to make it 2-0 in favor of the Bats. Following a triple by Darnell McDonald in the bottom of the third, Bankston struck again, this time blasting his 2nd home run of the game, and 13th of the season, pushing the bats advantage to 4-0. It was Bankston's first multi-home run game of the season, and first since his stint with AAA Sacramento on May 23, 2008.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Bats continued their assault as Craig Tatum launched a 417 foot dinger to deep center field, his third of the year, extending the lead to 5-0.

The Clippers put up a three-spot in the top of the fifth via the aforementioned hits by LaPorta, Hodges, and Marte, slimming the Bats lead to 5-3.

The Bats were able to add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Griffin drew a one-out walk, followed by Tatum's third hit of the game, putting runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. Stubbs hit a slow grounder which made it out of the infield for a single, knocking in Griffin, and making it a 6-3 game.

Following LaPorta's bomb in the 9th, the Bats and Clippers put up back-to-back scoreless frames. In the bottom of the 10th, Barker led off the inning with a single to right field. He was sacrificed to second on a bunt by McDonald, and was then pinch run for by Bolivar. Bankston was intentionally walked, and then Valaika was able to end the game on the first pitch of his at bat.

Former University of Louisville product, Zach Jackson toed the rubber for the Clippers this evening. He had a rough go of it but was bailed out by LaPorta and received a no decision. Jackson tossed six innings, while giving up 10 hits, six runs, three walks, and had three strikeouts.

The loss was pinned on Clipper relief pitcher, Frank Herrmann. Herrmann (1-1, 3.30) pitched three-and-one-third innings in relief, giving up two hits, one run, one walk, while striking out two.

The win was the 50th on the season for the Bats, making them a season high, 11 games over .500 at 50-39.

The Bats will go for the three-game series sweep tomorrow against the Clippers at 1:15 p.m. at Louisville Slugger Field. RHP Sam LeCure (7-5, 4.17) will look to stay hot for the Bats and will be opposed by RHP Kenny Ray (2-4, 8.06) for the Clippers.