Clippers blow late lead, lose 4-3 in extras to even series
COLUMBUS, OH – The Columbus Clippers were two outs away from heading to Durham with a 2-0 series lead, but the Durham Bulls rallied in the ninth inning to tie it and then won it in the tenth, 4-3 to tie the series at one in front of 5,158 at Huntington Park on Thursday night.
J.C. Ramirez took over in the eighth inning and set down the Durham lineup on ten pitches. He ran into trouble in the ninth however. He walked Vince Belnome with one out, who was lifted for a pinch runner.
With the infield at double play depth, Nick Franklin and Mike Fontenot both grounded balls through the right side just out of reach of the second baseman.
On Fontenot’s hit, Moncrief fielded quickly and threw a strike to the plate that caromed off the catcher’s mitt on a hop and allowed the tying run to score.
“(Ramirez) has thrown the ball really well in the last three weeks,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said. “In the eighth inning, he was really effective and then in the ninth, he walked a guy in a battle at-bat. Then, not taking away anything from their hitters, but he got a couple of roll-over ground balls that got through and ended up scoring a run.”
Tyler Sturdevant took over in the tenth and the first batter he saw, Cole Figueroa, hammered one to deep right-center that looked like a home run. It ended up hitting high off the wall and bounced over Moncrief’s head and by James Ramsey for a triple.
With the infield, Mahtook bounced one that Justin Sellers dove and stopped to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. He threw the ball high to the first baseman that bounced off the fencing of the dugout and right back to the fielder, still preventing the run from scoring.
“(Sellers) made an outstanding diving stop to save a run,” Tremie said. “When he got up, he kind of checked the runner at third and then the ball got away from him. But, prior to that happening, he saved a run by diving and stopping the ball.”
After Sturdevant struck out Jeremy Moore, Tim Beckham hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the winning run.
In a pair of plays at the plate, the Clippers were both denied a run and scored the go-ahead run. Francisco Lindor was the base runner on both plays.
In the Clippers third, Lindor singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Giovanny Urshela grounded one into left that played by Mikie Mahtook and he threw a strike to catcher Luke Maile, who didn’t have to move his glove far to apply the tag and end the inning.
“(Lindor) did a great job,” Tremie said. “He got a great jump and it was a good opportunity to score. Give the credit to (Mahtook), he charged that ball and made perfect throw home.”
The Clippers worked some two out magic in the fifth, starting with walk by Dusty Brown. Lindor singled to left and Murphy worked another two out walk to set up the second play at the plate.
Giovanny Urshela came through with another two out hit with a runner in scoring position, again hitting the ball to left. Brown scored easily from third and Lindor came around again in a replay of the third inning. This time the throw by Mahtook was not perfect and Lindor scored to give the Clippers a two run lead.
“Gio is one of the better hitters we’ve got and probably one of the best hitters in the whole league and I knew that he was going to try to make something happen,” Lindor said. “I tried to get the best jump I could on both (plays). Unfortunately, he made one good throw; he got me on the first one. There was no way that I was going to let him throw me out twice.”
Tyler Cloyd held the Bulls in check for seven innings. He gave up two runs on six hits and a walk and struck out seven.
Durham got back-to-back one out hits in the fourth to produce the tying run. Tim Beckham doubled into the left field corner in right and then scored on a single to right by Vince Belnome.
They got to Cloyd again in the seventh. Nick Franklin laced a one-out double over the head of David Murphy in right. Cloyd got Mike Fontenot to ground to second, advancing Franklin to third. But Maile grounded one to left to score Franklin and cut the lead to one.
The series moves to Durham on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
RF David Murphy was lifted after his at-bat in the seventh for Carlos Moncrief. Moncrief did not get an at-bat until the bottom of the tenth, when he struck out looking to end the game.
1B Audy Ciriaco led off the sixth with a single to center. He was the last Clippers base runner to reach. The Durham bullpen (Merrill Kelly, Josh Lueke and Adam Liberatore) retired the final 15 batters they faced (15-out-of-16 overall).
All of the Clippers seven hits came from the first five batters in the order (Urhsela with three and Lindor and Ciraco with two apiece). The only batter to reach base in the bottom four of the order was Dusty Brown, who walked in the fifth with two outs to start the rally.
Durham starter Enny Romero made two starts against the Clippers this season. He went 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in 9.2 innings.
In the first meeting, he opposed Josh Tomlin, who shut the Bulls out on 89 pitches. Romero gave up three runs in 5.2 innings in that game and took the loss.
The other start was the game on national television and he threw 96 pitches in four innings and gave up two runs.
Clippers starter Tyler Cloyd did not face Durham this season.
RHP Shaun Marcum (1-0, 2.35) will get the call for Game 3 in Durham on Friday. Marcum pitched in the bullpen for Columbus until his final appearance on Saturday when he started at Indianapolis. He threw three innings and 37 pitches in that outing and allowed no runs on a hit and struck out three batters.
Durham will counter with RHP Matt Andriese (11-8, 3.77). He made one start against the Clippers this season back on May 23 in Columbus. He held the Clippers to a run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in a 3-1 win.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.