Clippers don’t look back after seven-run first
Columbus prevails in high-scoring affair
COLUMBUS- A monster seven-run first inning fueled the Columbus Clippers as they defeated the Charlotte Knights 12-9 Thursday to split the four-game series.
After taking a commanding 7-0 lead in the first, Charlotte came back to tie the game in the top of the third. The Clippers kept battling, however, as they regained the lead with four more runs in the bottom half of the inning.
“Well, we kept swinging the bats,” manager Chris Tremie said. “Add-on runs are big. When it got tied we came back and took the lead again and then they scored one and we scored another one. That’s what you got to do. Just keep adding runs on and don’t let up. The good part is that we never lost the lead today. That’s big a lot of times in games when teams do come back. When they tied it up we extended the lead so that was probably the key.”
Coming into Thursday’s game, Columbus had scored seven total runs in the first inning this year. The 12-run output also marked the first time the Clippers have scored in double digits this season.
The Columbus offense came out slugging from the get-go, sending seven hitters to the plate before Charlotte starter Andre Rienzi recorded an out. The right-hander lasted just one-third on an inning, allowing seven runs on five hits.
Center fielder Tim Fedroff kick started the onslaught with a leadoff home run to left. After a walk issued to shortstop Ryan Rohlinger, first baseman Cord Phelps blasted his first of two homers to make the score 3-0.
Designated hitter Matt LaPorta then slapped double down third-base line and right fielder Jeremy Hermida followed with a walk. Second baseman Matt Lawson smashed an RBI double down the third-base line and left fielder Cedric Hunter bounced a single up the middle to give the Clippers a 5-0 lead.
Third baseman Adam Abraham struck out swinging in the next at-bat and that would be the last hitter Rienzi faced.
His replacement, reliever Dan Remenowsky, surrendered an RBI double to catcher Chris Wallace that snuck underneath third baseman Brent Morel’s glove. Batting for the second time in the inning, Fedroff cracked a base hit up the middle to bring the score to 7-0.
Just when the game appeared to be a blowout, the Knights responded with three runs in the top of the second and another four runs in the third to even things up at seven.
With one down in the second, right fielder Lars Anderson walked and former Clipper Mike McDade singled to right. Hermida slipped when attempting to field the ball which allowed Anderson to cross the plate and McDade to move all the way to third. Catcher Ryan Anderson looped an RBI single to right to narrow the margin to 7-2. Center fielder Blake Tokette whacked a high-chopper over LaPorta’s head and into the right field corner to add another run.
Charlotte tied things up with four runs in the bottom of the third.
Left fielder Dayan Viciedo singled to right to start the comeback and Anderson followed by slapping an opposite-field single to left. McDade then smoked a three-run shot that bounced off the roof in right field and onto Nationwide Boulevard. The next batter, designated hitter Seth Loman, crushed a bomb to dead center to tie the ballgame.
Clippers went back on top 11-7 with four runs in the bottom of the third.
With new pitcher Jhan Marinez in, Abraham singled into left and Fedroff came through with a double to left center for a run. Back-to-back home runs by Rohlinger and Phelps made it 11-7.
The Knights refused to lay down, chipping in a pair of additional runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
With left-hander David Huff pitching in the fifth, McDade grounded into a force out at second to bring his team a run closer and Morel doubled off the wall in center to make it 11-9 in the top of the sixth.
Columbus added insurance in the bottom of the seventh when Phelps hit a base knock up the gut to bring Fedroff home and increase the lead to 12-9.
Closer Preston Guilmet came on in the ninth and shut the Knights down for his 10th save of the season.
Tremie said the 12-run outburst by the Clippers is a sign of things to come throughout the remainder of the season.
“We have a lot of good hitters in this lineup,” Tremie said. “I think you’re going to see a lot more offense out of them than what we’ve seen the first month. I expect them to score runs and they expect themselves to do well. So yeah, I think you’ll see a lot more runs scored and we did it in one inning today.”
Every batter in the lineup had a hit except for right fielder Jeremy Hermida, who got on base three times with three walks.
Right-hander Joe Martinez started the game for the Clippers but only lasted four innings, giving up seven earned runs on 10 hits. Huff (1-2, 4.07 ERA) picked up the victory after tossing four solid frames of relief and allowing a single run. Marinez (1-2, 5.63 ERA) took the loss for Charlotte.
The triumph put the Clippers’ record at 18-16 while the Knights dropped to 11 games under .500 at 12-23.
Columbus will be back in action as they travel to Rochester to take on the Red Wings in a four-game series. The first game is scheduled for Friday at 7:05 p.m. as Clippers right hander Toru Murata (0-2, 6.00) will challenge righty Samuel Deduno (0-0, 0.00).
Ethan can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @ethanjday