Toole drives home walkoff win in extras for Clippers
COLUMBUS- The Clippers escaped a second extended game Sunday afternoon against the Gwinnett Braves winning 2-1. Columbus was able to showcase their bullpen late in the game, giving their offense a chance to take the win late in the eleventh.
Joe Martinez started on the mound for Columbus and would thankfully go seven innings into the game. Martinez gave up one hit and fanned six batters before the Braves were able to make it on the board early in the sixth.
The Braves earned their second hit with one out when a ground ball slipped through the infield into centerfield. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second before Martinez hit the following batter with a pitch. With two outs a shot out to left field brought in the first run of the game.
After previously stranding four runners on base the Clippers were able to make their move in the eighth inning.
Chun-Hsiu Chen led off the inning hitting a bomb out to the centerfield warning track for a triple. With Chen on third and one out it set the table for third baseman Justin Toole’s first hit of the night, sending Chen in to score the tying run.
The game would remain deadlocked through the next two innings thanks to the Clippers bullpen. Clay Rapada was called in to start the eighth inning and replaced Martinez. There were two outs and a runner on third when lefty CC Lee was called in to end the inning, striking out Gwinnett right handed hitter Ernesto Mejia.
Lee remained in the game before being replaced in the extra innings by Preston Guilmet. Guilmet pitched through the eleventh, earning himself the win.
Early in the eleventh the Braves not only lost their third baseman, but also their manager after a disagreement over a call at second base.
Matt LaPorta came up to the plate in the eleventh sending a high fly out to centerfield, the catch was dropped placing LaPorta on second. With one out Gwinnett closer Joe Bisenius intentionally walked both Matt Carson and Chen to load the bases.
"It’s a little risky walking two like that because then you’re putting pressure on your pitcher to throw strikes," manager Chris Tremie said about the decision to walk the bases loaded.
Bisenius struck out the next batter only to be blown away by Toole’s groundball to center field, scoring LaPorta to end the game.
“It’s kind of exciting when you can end up on that side of the play," Tremie said.
Sunday’s win against the Braves put the Clippers at 67-69, two games away from reaching .500. Tremie talked about the importance of hitting .500.
“I think from a pride standpoint for them playing on the team this year and what we’ve done in the last six weeks, we’ve played pretty good and to get back over that .500 mark would be nice to end the season," Tremie said.
Columbus will travel to Louisville for a two game away series before returning to Huntington Park for another two games with the Bats.