Behind an effective and consistent display of pitching, the Louisville Mashers (61-75) were dominant at the plate and showed no signs of slowing down in a 10-2 win over the Indianapolis Indians (72-67) on Sunday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
Left-handed starter Justin Nicolino (6-6, 4.69) pulled every strike in the book as he continued to retire batters and keep the Indians off the board. He allowed just two earned runs from seven hits while walking two and striking out seven through six innings of work. While dealing on the mound, Nicolino also showed what he could do on the other end of the pitch. With a single in the second inning, he bumped his season batting average to .375 and later came across the plate to bring in a run.
The Mashers were up and ready to go as soon as they hit the plate. Following a quick 1-2-3 first inning from Nicolino, the hitters did their part in return. The first hit of the game came from Hernan Iribarren as he doubled to right field. Gabriel Guerrero then followed it up with a single, one of four hits on the night for the center fielder. A passed ball then pushed both runners to third and second when O'Grady drew a walk to load the bases. Tim Federowicz then sealed the deal with his first Triple-A bases-loaded hit with the Bats, he found the gap between second and third to score both Iribarren and Guerrero to put the Mashers ahead by two.
The Indians threatened in the second but Nicolino spun a gem and drew a double-play to get out of the jam and avoid any damage. In the home half of the inning Nicolino was back in the limelight at the plate and singled to left field. Nick Longhi then reached base safely on another Indianapolis error. Guerrero saw the opportunity and connected for a sacrifice fly to score Nicolino. Before the innings end, Brian O'Grady crunched one more single to bring Longhi across the plate and give the Mashers a four-run lead.
The fourth inning provided the only runs for the Indianapolis Indians. They opened the inning with three straight hits. Jordan Luplow started things off with a double and a follow-up single from Ryan Lavarnaway put their first run on the board. Their last run of the night came from a line drive to make it 4-2 going into the fifth.
Then the magic happened. Gabriel Guerrero did his thing yet again and cranked his 17th home run of the season out of the ballpark. With the solo shot, he became the first Louisville player with 17 or more home runs in a season since Ruben Gotay recorded 17 in 2014. Anxious to get in on the action, Steve Selsky wasted no time to shine and slashed his own homer into left field for his 10th of the season to put the Mashers up 6-2.
The Bats now have four different players with double-digit home runs for the first time since 2011.
Tonight was all about scoring and more specifically, scoring in sets of two. The fourth couplet came in the bottom of the seventh. With two runners on, Steve Selsky kept the momentum going with a double to bring home Iribarren and Guerrero and take an 8-2 lead. The final pair of runs came in the bottom of the eighth. Gabriel Guerrero slashed a base hit to arrive safely at first when Brian O'Grady turned up the heat with his eighth home run of the year for a two-run shot to seal a 10-2 Mashers win in front of a crowd of 10,766.
The two teams will return to Louisville Slugger Field for the final game of the regular season on Monday afternoon. Right-hander Jose Lopez (5-12, 4.40) will close out the season against fellow righty, Tyler Eppler (12-6, 3.76). First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.