Seventh-inning rally lifts Clippers over Bulls 3-2
COLUMBUS - Thanks to a few lucky breaks in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Columbus Clippers nudged the Durham Bulls 3-2 Friday.
Down 2-1, the Clippers filled the bases and came through with a duo of runs to catapult themselves into the lead. Durham catcher Jesus Flores never touched home plate on what could have been a force out for the tying run of the inning as shortstop Tim Beckham botched a groundball to allow the go-ahead run to score.
“We had the leadoff double and tried to bunt him over and ended up getting on,” Columbus manager Chris Tremie said. “Then a walk loaded the bases and you know, [Ezequiel] Carrera with two strikes put the ball in play. When you do that you never know what’s going to happen and so it was a great at-bat on his part. Then Fedroff, same thing, putting the ball in play and getting another run.”
Third baseman Ryan Rohlinger smacked a screaming double down the left field line to start the inning. Next, second baseman Nate Spears laid down a perfect bunt on the left side of the infield and unintentionally made it to first for a single. After catcher Roberto Perez walked to load the bases, the fielding miscues by the Bulls lead to their demise.
Although the rally quickly fizzled after the second run was scored, Tremie said his team did all that was needed of them to secure a victory.
“Give credit to that kid,“ said of Durham reliever Jeff Beliveau. “He loaded the bases with nobody out and then had three strikeouts. But you know, we did enough to win.”
Left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone marched out of the bullpen in the ninth and slammed the door on Durham to pick up the save.
Columbus scored a run right off the bat but could have made some more noise. Bulls starter Matt Buschmann gave a strong six-inning effort, silencing the Clipper offense after allowing a lone run in the first inning before handing the game over to the relief corps.
Carrera doubled to left field to kick start the top of the first. After designated hitter Tim Fedroff was walked, Carrera got an excellent jump on Buschmann and swiped third base with ease. Right fielder Jeremy Hermida knocked him in by lining a base hit into center field. Columbus loaded the bases in the following at-bats but failed to capitalize as Rohlinger struck out to end the threat.
Clipper left-hander T.J. House breezed through the first two frames before encountering trouble in the third inning. Singles from Flores and third baseman Cole Figueroa placed runners at first and second with one out. The southpaw buckled down however and forced left fielder Jason Bourgeois to pop out to Spears at second who then threw the ball to first to double-off Figueroa.
Although he allowed a run in the top of the fifth, House continued to battle his way through yet another jam with minimal damage. Back-to-back base knocks by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and Flores positioned runners at the corners. Beckham laced an RBI single to left to put the Bulls on the board. Figueroa successfully moved the base runners over with a bunt down the third-base line. But again, House kept his composure to retire the next pair of hitters and prevent any more runs from scoring.
Columbus relief pitcher C.C. Lee replaced House in the sixth after another solid outing by the left-hander. During his five innings of work, House allowed just one run on six hits with five strikeouts against one walk.
After a rough beginning at the Triple-A level this season, House has turned things around as of late. In his last four starts, he has accumulated a 2-1 record with a 1.50 ERA.
“He’s commanding the ball as of late, throwing the fastball down and away and also in as well,” Tremie said. “His secondary pitches are still there. His changeup has been down in the zone. I think he has some confidence and he’s locating his pitches so that’s the big difference.”
Beckham broke the tie in the top of the seventh to give Durham the 2-1 advantage. Kiermaier lead off with a double to left and Beckham struck with an RBI single off of reliever Blake Wood to give his team the lead.
Right-hander Fernando Nieve (5-2, 1.69 ERA) earned the win in his 1.2 innings of relief while Beliveau (2-3, 2.52 ERA) was charged with the defeat.
The Clippers improve to 51-57 with the slim victory.
Columbus will rely on right-hander Trevor Bauer (5-2, 3.84 ERA) to help seize another win against the Bulls as he takes on righty J.D. Martin (12-4, 2.82 ERA). The first pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. Saturday.