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Clippers end season with dramatic 8-7 walkoff win

Chen goes 4-for-5 in season finale and drives in winning run

Clippers end season with dramatic 8-7 walkoff win
September 2, 2013
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COLUMBUS, OH - A barn-burner between the Columbus Clippers and the Toledo MudHens ended in wild fashion, as Columbus rode off into the sunset with an 8-7 victory in their final game of 2013.

Tied at 7-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning in a game that already contained 24 hits, three errors, and 14 runs, it was anyone’s guess as to who was going to be the hero.

It turns out that hero would be Chun-Hsiu Chen, who put the cherry on top of his brilliant final day of the season.

With two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Chen hit a sharp grounder through the hole between shortstop and third base.

Fans stood and began to scream with delight, as Ryan Rohlinger made his way home and ended the Clippers season with an 8-7 walk-off win.

Chen finished the day 4-5 with four singles, a run and that last RBI to finish a productive 2013 season.

Starting in Akron, Chen made his way up to Columbus in the middle of the season and solidified his spot in the middle of this Clippers lineup almost right away.

Going into next year, Chen will be looked upon as one of the Columbus leaders and may even get to spend some time in an Indians uniform.

While Chen sent the Clippers into 2014 in memorable fashion, from the get-go it didn’t look as if that was going to be the case.

After last night’s game only yielded a single run for the MudHens bats, they got it going right away against Columbus starter TJ House.

The first two batters of the game, Gustavo Nunez and Jordan Lennerton, hit consecutive doubles to give Toledo a 1-0 lead right away.

House settled down and got the next two outs, but Ben Guez came through with a two-out RBI single to left and gave the MudHens a 2-0 lead in the very first frame.

Fortunately, the Clippers struck right back in the bottom of the first, thanks to Matt LaPorta.

With two outs and a man on first, LaPorta connected on his 10th home run in just 44 games this season and tied the score at 2-2 with a single swing of the bat.

The home run also earned LaPorta the title of all-time Huntington Park home run leader.

Coming into Monday’s game, LaPorta was tied with Jared Goedert for the all-time Huntington Park home run total with 37, but with his 38th career bomb on Monday afternoon, LaPorta stood all by himself as the king of long ball in Huntington Park.

By the time LaPorta came to the plate for his second at bat, however, the MudHens had put yet another crooked number on the board.

Nunez hit his second inning-starting double of the game in the third and was again followed by Lennerton who brought him home on a line drive single to right-center.

With a man on first and no outs, third baseman Mike Cervenak doubled to put runners on second and third for right fielder Danny Dorn.

Dorn grounded to second for the first out of the inning, but brought in Lennerton in the process and gave the MudHens a 4-2 lead.

After a line-out from Guez, designated hitter Ronny Paulino hit a bloop single into shallow left-center, brought in the MudHens third run of the inning, and gave Toledo a 5-2 lead.

It seemed as if the Clippers would rally right back to score three of their own, but instead wasted opportunities and only scored a single run in the third.

Back-to-back singles for Ezekiel Carrera and Ryan Rohlinger gave the Clippers two men on with no outs to start the inning, but Jeremy Hermida quickly squashed the rally by grounding into a double play.

Carrera scored on the play, but the Clippers were in a hole with the bases empty and two outs.

LaPorta kept the inning alive with a walk and was followed by Chen who hit his second straight single of the day, as the Clippers caught their second wind in the third inning.

Again, however, they failed to deliver and still trailed 5-3, as Nate Spears struck out looking to end the inning.

After a scoreless fourth from Toledo, the Clippers would add another run in the bottom of the inning, as Omir Santos drove his third home run of the season over the wall in left field and cut the Toledo lead to just a run, at 5-4.

The Clippers put runs on the board for the third straight inning in the fifth, but they came in a very unlikely fashion.

After two straight outs to start the inning, Chun Chen hit his third straight single of the day to give the Clippers a two-out chance.

Sure enough, Nate Spears laid down a bunt single and the throw from Toledo starter Jon Link found its way to the Clippers bullpen in right field. Chen scored from first on the play and tied the game at 5-5 while Spears made it all the way to third.

With a runner on third and two outs, the inning wasn’t over quite yet. Santos, the Clippers hero in the fourth inning, hit a soft ground ball to short as Spears made his way home.

Toledo shortstop Argenis Diaz took his time in fielding the ball, bobbled it, and made a late throw to first base. Santos beat out the throw and Spears made it home to give Columbus a 6-5 lead heading into the sixth.

The Clippers would strike again in the sixth, as Ryan Rohlinger drove home Yhoxian Medina, who started the inning with a single, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double.

Up 7-5 and having scored in four consecutive innings, the Clippers successfully knocked Toledo starter Jon Link out of the game with two outs in the sixth inning.

Overall the Columbus-native, Link, had a pretty forgettable day on the mound.

In those 5.2 innings, Link allowed 11 hits, seven runs, five earned runs, two home runs and two walks on his way to a no decision.

His counterpart, House, was on the opposite end of the spectrum, cruising after his rough beginning.

Allowing five runs in the first three innings, House put up zeroes in the next three frames  before being replaced with two outs in the top of the seventh.

In his 6.2 innings, House allowed 11 hits, six runs, six earned runs, and one walk, while striking out six.

While his numbers were similar to Link’s, House avoided trouble in key situations and got some help from his defense, who did not commit an error while he was on the hill.

Benny Suarez came in to record the final out with House’s inherited runner on second, but was unable to do so as Toledo DH Ronny Paulino smacked his third single of the day and recorded his second RBI of the ballgame.

When Suarez was done with the inning, the Clippers had just a one run lead, but that wouldn’t be enough.

Suarez came back out to start the eighth and immediately gave up a solo-bomb to Toledo catcher John Murrian that tied the game at 7-7, where it would stay until Chun’s ninth inning heroics.

Overall, the Clippers ended their season with a 71-73 record and finished in second place in the International League West standings.

After two years away from the playoffs, the Clippers will look to get back to the International League postseason in 2014.

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