Ciriaco, Clippers outlast Red Sox, 5-4
Columbus won despite being outhit 12 to 6 on Sunday
COLUMBUS, OH – Losing a lead is never an easy pill to swallow, but when a team comes back from doing so they show signs of real togetherness.
That good feeling was abound in Huntington Park on Sunday evening as the Columbus Clippers (49-41) rode a four-run fifth inning to a 5-4 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox (46-46).
Columbus starter Zach McAllister entered Sunday’s game with a 4-0 record, and he continued to look comfortable at the Triple-A level. His first three innings of work yielded just three base runners, and his teammates took advantage of his efficient start in the third.
Ryan Rohlinger extended his hitting streak to five games with a one-out double, before Jose Ramirez moved Rohlinger to third on a groundout to give Elliot Johnson a chance to put Columbus on the board.
It looked like he’d wasted the opportunity when he grounded to third, but Garin Cecchini’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag allowing Johnson to reach safely and Rohlinger to cross home plate.
But the Clippers weren’t in the lead for long. Cecchini began to atone for his error, singling home Travis Shaw with two out to tie the contest.
Cecchini stole second and moments later gave Pawtucket the lead on a Deven Marrero single.
McAllister faced another two-out rally in the next inning. After retiring the frame’s first two batters, he allowed two hits and a walk to load the bases. Fortunately for him, Carlos Rivero fanned on a 2-2 pitch the end the threat.
Rivero must have felt helpless in his DH role during the bottom of the inning as the Clippers blitzed Chris Hernandez to take control of the ballgame.
Rohlinger was the catalyst again as he drew a leadoff walk, and one-out later Elliot Johnson restored the Clippers’ lead with two-run homer into the left field bleachers, only his third homer of the season.
The homer meant Johnson is now hitting .265 on the season, and after the game Columbus manager Chris Tremie praised the veterans performances this season.
“He’s been very reliable. Whether he’s playing left, right or center, he gives you a quality at-bat, professional player, I think he does a great job,” Tremie said. “He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and around everybody.”
The Clippers still weren’t done. Jesus Aguilar doubled to deep left before Giovanny Urshela walked. A groundout advanced them both, before Carlos Moncrief sent them both home with a ground-rule double.
McAllister finished after six innings of two-run baseball to improve his record to 5-0, and Tremie talked after the game about what has made him so successful during his stint in Columbus.
“He’s doing a good job locating his fastball and his secondary pitches have been good,” Tremie said. “He’s continued to work down in the zone and he’s been pretty consistent.”
His first replacement was Frank Hermann, and the righty struck out two in the seventh to help maintain the Columbus lead. Bryan Price followed Hermann in the eighth, allowing one hit but nothing else.
Mark Lowe entered in the ninth to try and clinch his third consecutive save, but things were far from straightforward for him. With Alex Hassan on third, Carp singled to left to cut the lead to two. Ryan Roberts followed with a single, but Shaw followed him by seemingly grounding into a game-ending double play. Unfortunately for Columbus, the throw back to first for the final out missed its target, allowing Carp to score and the Pawtucket rally to continue.
Now with a lead of just a single run, Lowe managed to get Rivero to line a ball straight at Audy Ciriaco to end the game.
Columbus has now won three straight games, and the team remains in a tie for first in the International League’s West Division.
The Clippers and Red Sox continue their four-game series with game two on Monday evening at 7:05. Kyle Davies takes the hill for the home team.