NORFOLK – It was another defensive struggle on Sunday evening, but this time the Columbus Clippers (61-55) came out on top against the Norfolk Tides (58-58) by a final score of just 1-0.
The only run for either side came in the top of the fifth inning. Clippers second baseman Cord Phelps walked to begin the inning, and then right fielder Vinny Rottino reached on a Norfolk fielding error charged to third baseman Bill Hall. Phelps advanced all the way to third on the play, and then he came into score on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Matt LaPorta. It wasn’t a pretty run, but it was the only one they would need.
Errors were a big story on the night for Norfolk, even if they only cost them on the scoreboard a single time. The Tides committed a total of four errors throughout the game; three of which were charged to Hall. The fourth error was charged to second baseman Ryan Adams. These plays are indicative of the all-around sloppiness that ultimately cost the Tides the game.
It didn’t help any that they were going up against an incredibly confident T.J. McFarland (5-5, 5.05 ERA), who won his first game for the Clippers since July 20 in Lehigh Valley. It was quite the win as well. Not only did he not allow a run, but he also gave up just three hits and a walk while striking out Norfolk batters five times. He lasted eight innings, and Clippers reliever Frank Herrmann came out in the ninth inning to get his seventh save of the season.
The Norfolk loss certainly cannot be blamed on starter Zach Clark (2-1, 1.56 ERA), who pitched a stellar game but was dealt his first loss since he joined the Tides. He allowed one run on five hits, but due to the Hall error the run was ultimately unearned. He lasted six innings, and in that time he walked three and struck out six. Tides reliever Pat Egan pitched three perfect innings to close out the game.
The Tides were not without their chances, even if they were few and far between. Norfolk batters went 0-for-5 on the night with runners in scoring position, and left a total of five men on base. One of their best chances came in the ninth inning, as the Tides were able to get runners on second and third with two outs. However, Hall – the player who was charged three errors on the night – hit a fly out to Rottino to end the game.
After splitting the series in Norfolk, the Clippers will now head to Durham to start a four-game series on Monday night at 7:05 p.m.