LOUISVILLE – A late rally wasn’t enough for the Columbus Clippers (66-63) on Sunday afternoon, and their early game mistakes ultimately cost them a 9-8 decision to the Louisville Bats (50-80).
It was the second consecutive loss for Clippers starter Jeanmar Gomez (6-4, 3.80 ERA), and he wound up leaving after 4.2 innings. In that time he allowed eight runs on nine hits and five walks.
The shootout began in the first inning, and the Clippers were able to strike for a couple runs. First designated hitter Matt LaPorta hit an RBI single with the bases loaded, and then first baseman Lars Anderson launched a sacrifice fly to center that brought one more run in.
Despite the 2-0 lead, Gomez struggled from the get go. Bats first baseman Neftali Soto hit an RBI single up the middle to cut the lead in half, and a couple batters later center fielder Denis Phipps brought two more runs in with a ground ball single. It was a 3-2 Louisville lead until right fielder Felix Perez came home on a Gomez wild pitch, and the inning ended with a 4-2 score.
Louisville starter Sean Gallagher (10-9, 4.92 ERA) had a fine game, getting the win after five innings of work. Besides the two first inning runs, he allowed another two-spot in the third on the 20th home run of the year by Clippers left fielder Russ Canzler. All in all he gave up the four runs – three earned – on five hits and two walks.
Canzler’s homer tied the game, but Gomez’s rough night continued in the bottom of the fifth inning. First he allowed a three-run shot to Phipps (his 12th of the year), and then left fielder Cody Puckett hit a soft RBI single to right.
Despite the 8-4 lead, it was the ninth Louisville run that turned out to be the most crucial. Phipps continued his massive night with a solo shot to lead off the seventh inning, and while at the time it seemed like just another insurance run it would ultimately be the difference.
Trailing 9-4, the Clippers mounted a near-comeback in the eighth inning with a four-run rally that ultimately came up just short. RBI singles were hit by Anderson and third baseman Jared Goedert, and then center fielder Tim Fedroff hit a two-run single that shrunk the deficit to a single run. Unfortunately Columbus could not come any closer, and the Bats escaped with a 9-8 victory.
The Clippers will play game three of their four-game series on Monday night at 7:05 p.m.