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Columbus Clippers rally to beat RailRiders at home, 5-4

Columbus Clippers rally to beat RailRiders at home, 5-4
Photo credit: Brittany Chay/flickr
June 12, 2014
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – It doesn’t take long for a game to change completely. 

For six innings the Columbus Clippers couldn’t get anything going offensively, but one inspired sequence from the lower half of the lineup lifted them to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory Thursday night. 

The Clippers (33-33) worked against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (32-33) on an unseasonably cool evening in Columbus.

Columbus starter Kyle Davies threw just 19 pitches over the first two innings. Some outstanding fielding in the first helped him as well.Carlos Moncrief caught Jose Pirela trying to extend a single into a double for his 13th assist of the season. But the RailRiders began to make Davies work during the next frame.

Austin RomineAntoan Richardson and Pirela hit consecutive one-out singles to load the bases. Carmen Angelinimanaged to hit a fly ball deep enough in right field to prevent Moncrief making another great play, and Romine scored on the sacrifice. Davies struck out Zoilo Almonte to leave two runners stranded. 

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre third baseman Scott Sizemore flashed the leather to deny Adam Abraham a hit in the bottom of the inning, and his impact didn’t stop there.

Kyle Roller led off the top of the fourth with a fly ball to deep left, and the Clippers’ Elliot Johnson couldn’t find in the ball in the sun as Roller went into second with a double. Two batters later Sizemore stepped up to drive a two-run shot into the left field bleachers. 

Sizemore was at it again in the bottom of the same inning, this time turning a double play off the bat of Johnson. 

Columbus got on the board in the fifth when Moncrief sent the first pitch of the inning off the scoreboard for his sixth homer of the year.

Since the calendar turned to June, Moncrief has been impressive at the plate. He’s hitting .353 in his last nine games, highlighted by three homers and 10 RBIs. His manager Chris Tremie said Moncrief’s current hot streak is down to his comfort level.

“He’s getting to where his routine is steady and he feels good about himself,” Tremie said. “You’re starting to see him be pretty comfortable as far as being in the environment of the game and I think that adds a lot to a player’s ability.”

After a walk to Abraham the Clippers had the tying run at the plate in the form of Sellers. He became the third Columbus batter to be robbed by Sizemore by grounding into an inning-ending double play. 

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starting pitcher Jeremy Bleich made his Triple-A debut – but his performance was one of a seasoned veteran. Through the first six innings he gave up only one run on two hits, combined with five strikeouts. But things began to go wrong in seventh as the Columbus lineup caught fire.  

Johnson led off with a single, followed by an Urshela double to deep center to send him home. Bleich then hit Moncrief with the first pitch of the at-bat, and his day was done.

His replacement Danny Burawa didn’t have the desired effect. Roberto Perez doubled off the centerfield wall to score Urshela and tie the game.

Perez actually began the at-bat by squaring to bunt, but Tremie said it was a situation that still managed to come good.  

“We had an opportunity to move runners and put the winning run on second base and at the time I thought that was the right move to do,” Tremie said. “But it ended up working out really well because he put a really good swing on a 2-2 pitch, hit a double and gave us the lead.”

Abraham kept the inning going with another double, this time scoring both Urshela and Perez. Columbus still had a man on and nobody out, but Burawa retired the next three batters to keep his team’s deficit at two. 

Davies ended the night after seven innings of work, surrendering three runs and striking out seven. His replacement,Mark Lowe, struck out the first two batters he faced in the eighth, but he gave up a solo homer off the bat of Almonte to make it a one-run ballgame. 

Vinnie Pestano closed out the victory by retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth, giving the Clippers their seventh win in nine games.

Neither Lowe nor Pestano has given up a run in any of their last five appearances, and Tremie acknowledged how critical their performances were on Thursday.

“Whoever is pitching the eighth and ninth with a one or two run lead, it’s crucial to come in and get outs and both of them did it.” 

Game two of a four-game series between the two teams is scheduled for Friday at 7:15 p.m. Righty Travis Banwart is set to take the hill for Columbus against the RailRiders’ Bruce Billings.

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