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Clippers get first win of season behind two Aguilar blasts

Jesus Aguilar blasts 2 HRs, 5 RBIs as Clippers get first win of season.

Clippers get first win of season behind two Aguilar blasts
The Clippers left Huntington Park with their first win of the season on Tuesday. (Photo: MiLB)
April 9, 2014
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COLUMBUS, OH – Five games into the season, the Columbus Clippers (1-4) finally have their first win of the season, defeating the Louisville Bats (2-2) in dramatic fashion 6-5 Tuesday night at Huntington Park. 

DH Jesus Aguilar once again provided the offense smacking two home runs (three total in the last two games) and driving in five of the Clippers six runs.

“He’s getting good swings and not chasing out of the zone and he’s putting together some very quality at-bats,” said Clippers manager Chris Tremie about Aguilar’s strong start overall.

After going 2-4 on the night, Aguilar actually lowered his batting average tonight by 20 points, dropping his season average to .563. 

Aguilar was not to be outdone by Louisville’s Ruben Gotay, who similiar to Aguilar jacked two home runs (three in the past two games), while pacing the Bats’ offense by driving in three of their five runs. 

Before the seventh, it was somewhat of a pitching duel between two starters debuting for their respective teams.  Earning the win was Travis Banwart (1-0) who pitched six very strong innings, allowing one run on two hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

“He set the tempo early,” Tremie said about Banwart.  “He commanded his fastball well and he worked fast.” 

David Holmberg took the loss for Louisville, despite a workmen-like effort where he battled through five tough innings giving up two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.  Holmberg pitched a well the first three innings allowing just ywo runners to reach base, but eventually, the Clippers bats' got things going.  After a leadoff single by David Cooper, Aguilar drove him in with a linedrive that just cleared the fence in left giving the Clippers a 2-0 lead.  Until that point, the Clippers had only led once all season.  The only other time the Clippers were leading on the season was after taking a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning of the second game of Saturday night’s doubleheader against Indianapolis, but quickly gave it back in the top of the second.

This time, they held it for good.  Banwart retired his first seven batters and 17 of 19 before Gotay clanked his first home run of the day, a solo shot, off the roof of the balcony in right.

The Clippers did real damage in seventh.  For the fourth time in five innings, the Clippers got the leadoff man on, in this case, a Matt Carson walk against Pedro Villareal.  After Roberto Perez sacrificed him to second, Bats manager Jim Riggleman went to his bullpen for left-hander Lee Hyde to counter a left-handed heavy section of the Clippers batting order.  Hyde got Michael Bourne (rehab assignment from Cleveland) to fly out, but walked Jose Ramirez and gave up a run-scoring single to Cooper. 

From the third through the seventh, the Clippers got the leadoff runner on base four times, scoring twice, and eventually leadong to six runs scored. 

“Getting the first guy on sets the table for the rest of the inning,” Tremie said.  “The more you can do that the better off you’re going to be in the long run, so that was a good sign (Tuesday night).”

Riggleman changed pitchers again, bringing in righty Chad Rogers to face Aguilar.  The move did not work.  Aguilar battled through six pitches before crushing the seventh off the scoreboard advertisements in right-center driving in three runs and pushing the lead to 6-1, and seemingly putting the game out of reach.

The Bats weren’t done though.  After Nick Hagadone looked dominant in the seventh, he was sent back out for the eighth.  After getting the first out, he surrendered a solo shot to Kristopher Negron.  Justin Sellers had difficulty with a grounder hit to third by Ryan LaMarre, and was charged with an error.  That set the stage for another Gotay home run, this time an opposite field shot to left. 

Mark Lowe replaced Hagadone and got the final two outs, but he had trouble in the ninth.  After a leadoff single to left by Thomas Neal, which was erased on a Chris Nelson fielder's choice, Tucker Barnhart hit a drive into the alley in left-center that drove in Nelson.  The remaining fans watched holding their collective breaths as Lowe retired the final two batters to get the save, his first of the season.

Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.

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