Clippers overpowered by Knights, 18-9
Columbus was doubled up by Charlotte, despite scoring 9 runs on Thursday.
COLUMBUS, OH – Some days a lineup can seem like they can hit anything and everything.
That feeling must not be common for the last-place Charlotte Knights (18-35), but they certainly had a night to remember as they recorded 20 hits in an 18-9 victory over the Columbus Clippers (24-28)
Charlotte began the run-scoring bonanza in the second inning when they were aided by two mistakes from Columbus players who found themselves in unfamiliar environments.
With David Cooper on the DL and Jesus Aguilar up in Cleveland, the Clippers were forced to start Elliot Johnson at first, only the third time he’s done so in his 1,213-game professional career. His fielding was tested early in the second when Andy Wilkins grounded straight to him with a runner already on first. Johnson attempted to start a double play by getting the force-out at second, but his throw went awry and both runners reached safely.
Had the play been executed successfully the Clippers would’ve been out of the inning once pitcher Gabriel Arias struck out the next batter, Tyler Saladino. But instead it was two on with one out, and the Knights’ big frame began.
Dan Black singled to load the bases, but Arias made things interesting as he struck out Jared Mitchell. But in a bases load, two-out duel with Blake Tekotte the pitcher came up second-best, walking Tekotte on a 3-2 pitch giving the Charlotte its first run.
The other fielding mistake by Columbus came during the next at-bat. Carlos Sanchez struck a pitch deep into center toward Tyler Holt. Holt is a centerfielder by trade, but Thursday was only his fourth game with the Clippers, and his lack of experience in Huntington Park showed when he came up a step short from catching the fly ball. All three runners scored on the triple to blow the game wide open.
The Clippers responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer off the bat of Ryan Rohlinger.
Black got one of those runs back for Charlotte when he hit a solo shot in the top of the third.
But then it was time for the Clippers’ bats to come alive. Johnson came to the plate with nobody out and the bases loaded, and promptly lined a shot down the first base line that ricocheted off the bag and into the outfield for a two-run double. Giovanny sent Johnson and Holt home with another double, before Rohlinger doubled down the line to bring Urshela home with two outs to tie the game at seven.
Neither team registered a base runner in the fourth, but after blowing a six-run lead the Knights jumped ahead again, this time for good. .
Danks led off the inning by reaching on a bunt toward third, and a one-out single by Wilkins meant Benny Suarez, who had just been promoted from Single-A Carolina, replaced Arias. He won’t remember this outing fondly.
Saladino singled off the reliever into center before Black smashed a grand slam out of the ballpark for his second homer of the game. He wasn’t done either.
Mitchell followed the grand slam with a home run of his own, and three batters later Phegley hit the third homer of the inning, this one a two-run shot. It was the first time the Knights had recorded three homers in one frame all season.
Black was at it again in the sixth when he crushed his third homer of the evening – another first for Charlotte – as they pulled away to lead 16-7.
That was all for Suarez as he exited after lasting just one and a third, giving up seven runs on four home runs.
Austin Adams and C.C. Lee three two and a third shutout innings, but Frank Hermann surrendered two runs in the ninth. With no other pitchers to turn to, Columbus manager Chris Tremie called Johnson to the mound for his first pitching appearance as a pro, and the infielder gave up one hit before getting the required final outs. Unfortunately, the Clippers could only score twice after their two runs in the sixth.
But, with thirteen hits and nine runs, Tremie admitted that there were still some positive signs at the plate for the Clippers.
“We had some good at-bats today. Some guys that have been not getting as many hits as they would like to get lately, had good nights. Urshela getting a couple hits, Ciriaco’s home run, Rohlinger’s home run. Unfortunately we weren’t able to pitch very well today.”
Tremie also said that the score line is a reminder of how hitter friendly Huntington Park can be.
“You’ve got to keep the ball down in this park,” Tremie said. “Especially on a night like tonight where there was a bit of a breeze and the ball flies pretty well.”
The loss means the two teams split the four-game series, but it was another disappointing performance for the Clippers as they’ve now lost 12 of their last 16.
- Catcher Roberto Perez activated from seven-day DL.
- Catcher Matt Colantonio was placed on seven-day DL with a left ankle sprain.
- Infielder Justin Sellers optioned to Columbus from Cleveland.
- Pitcher Benny Suarez promoted from Single-A Carolina to Columbus.