Espino, Carson propel Clippers over Bats, 7-3
COLUMBUS- The Clippers produced some of their own fireworks on this Fourth of July weekend. Lead by a monster seven-run second inning and a dominating outing by starter Paolo Espino, Columbus pounded the Louisville Bats 7-3 Friday in the first contest of a nine game home stand.
After taking a 3-1 lead against the Bats in the bottom of the second, designated hitter Matt Carson launched a grand slam into the left field bleachers on the first pitch he saw to give the Clippers a comfortable cushion 7-1 cushion. Those seven runs would prove to be all Columbus would need in order to secure the victory.
“I felt like we were going to get to him (Louisville starter Daniel Corcino) in the first inning,” manager Chris Tremie said. “You know, a hard hit ground ball, first and second, ended up kind of squashing that inning but then coming right back and the big hit by Fedroff extended the inning and then obviously the grand slam by Carson. But probably the turning point in that inning was Fedroff’s at-bat.”
Espino (1-4, 4.91 ERA) notched his first win of the season after his spectacular two-hit performance. The right-hander allowed just one run with nine strikeouts and two walks in his longest outing of the season at 6.2 innings. Tremie said Espino had been working out some kinks and tonight the right-hander seemed to show that whatever he’s been doing is certainly helping.
“It was an outstanding outing,” Tremie said. “They’ve (Espino and pitching coach Tom Arnold) been working on some things, not to get too specific but there are some things in his delivery that he wanted to work on and do a better job at. He took it right out into the game tonight and he was much better with his fastball down in the zone, a tighter breaking ball, some good cutters, a good changeup. He mixed his pitches up well and located the ball and repeated his delivery more consistently than he had been doing.”
The Clippers jumped on Corcino in the bottom of the first inning with three consecutive hits but failed to bring a run home. With one down in the inning, center fielder Tim Fedroff stroked a first-pitch fastball up the middle for a single. First baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen then dribbled a soft grounder down the third base line and beat out the throw for an infield single. Fedroff rounded third after right fielder Jeremy Hermida laced a single to right but was thrown out in a bang-bang play at the plate. The following two batters where retired by Corcino to prevent any potential damage by Columbus.
The Bats tallied a run in the top of the second to go up 1-0. Espino walked left fielder Felix Perez to begin the inning. But after setting down the next two Louisville hitters, the starter allowed an RBI double down the left field line to right fielder Josh Fellhauer to make it a 1-0 ballgame.
The deficit was quickly erased however as Columbus would explode for seven runs in the bottom half of the second to seize a commanding 7-1 lead. Second baseman Juan Diaz lead of with shot in the left center field gap for a double. Third baseman Nate Spears then laid down a picture-perfect bunt single down third base line to position runners at the corners. In the next at-bat, shortstop Ryan Rohlinger chopped a bouncer to the hot corner which third baseman Neftali Soto rifled home in attempt to throw out a sprinting Diaz at the plate. Once catcher Corky Millergathered the throw, Diaz immediately switched directions and hustled safely back to third.
With the bases loaded, catcher Roberto Perez lofted a sacrifice fly to center to even the score at one. After left fielderEzequiel Carrera grounded into a force out, Fedroff smacked a base hit up the middle to give the Clippers a 3-1 advantage. Chen followed by lacing a two-bagger down the third base line to place runners in scoring position. Hermida walked to juice the bases for Carson and the cleanup hitter put his team ahead 7-1 with one mighty swing of his bat.
Despite the disaster of an inning, Corcino (4-11, 6.72 ERA) managed to stretch out 109 pitches over 7.2 frames. The second was the only inning he allowed a run but that was enough to earn him the loss.
Louisville tacked on a pair of runs off of reliever Preston Guilmet in the top of the eighth. Second baseman Emmanuel Burris reached on a grounder that skipped off of Chen‘s glove at first. An out later, designated hitterHenry Rodriguez bloopd single to right and Perez followed with an RBI single to left. First baseman Mike Hessmancapped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to right to narrow the margin to 7-3.
The routing improves the Clippers record to 40-49 and Louisville drops to 43-46 with the loss. The Clippers and Bats are set to play a doubleheader Saturday with Columbus right-hander Danny Salazar (2-2, 3.86 ERA) squaring off against Louisville righty Greg Reynolds (10-0, 2.44 ERA) in the first game. The starter for the latter affair is still undecided for the Clippers but the Bats will counter with Pedro Villarreal (2-5, 5.62 ERA). Game one is scheduled for a 5:35 p.m. start time.