Clippers rally to take out Bulls 4-3, reach .500
The Columbus Clippers (13-13) are .500 for the first time since June 6, 2013.
DURHAM, NC – As the old baseball saying goes “walks will haunt” and it applied to the Columbus Clippers 4-3 win over the Durham Bulls on Thursday night.
Jesus Aguilar led off the eighth inning with a walk off of Durham (18-11) reliever Steve Geltz (2-2, 3.86), and later scored the game winning run on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carson as the Clippers (13-13) finally climbed to .500 after Friday’s victory.
The Clippers have not seen a .500 record in quite some time; since June 6th of last season to be exact, when they were 30-30. Since then they have lost seven attempts to climb back, including three times this season. Now that they have reached the mountain top, and it’s time to come down the other side.
Walks, err, a walk in particular did haunt Clippers starter Travis Banwart. With the Clippers clinging to a 3-2 lead at the end of six, Banwart opened the seventh by issuing a free pass to Robby Ross. One out later, Roman Ali Solis singled him in to tie the game.
Outside of Banwart’s first inning and his last inning, he pitched brilliantly, allowing no runs, only one hit and two walks. In total, he pitched 6.1 innings allowing three earned runs, four hits, three walks and hurled seven strikeouts.
It did not take long for both teams to find offense. Nyjer Morgan doubled to lead off the game, and scored two batters later on a groundout by Aguilar that gave the Clippers the early lead.
Durham came back in the bottom half. It started innocently enough after Banwart retired the first two batters, but then he hit Justin Christian. Wilson Betemit lined a double to right to score Christian, and then was driven in on a triple by Vince Belnome to give Durham a one run lead after one.
The Clippers finally broke through in the sixth with a little help from Bulls pitcher Mike Montgomery. A missed catch error by the Durham pitcher allowed both Clippers base runners to score.
Tim Fedroff led the inning off with a single to center, and advanced to third one out later on a double by Carlos Moncrief. While Fedroff would have scored regardless on a Ryan Rohlinger ground ball to first, the error by Montgomery allowed Moncrief to score to give the Clippers the lead again.
Another saying comes to mind about Clippers closer Mark Lowe, “patience is a virtue.” With two-outs Robbie Ross battled Lowe for ten pitches that, ultimately, ended in a walk. The walk only delayed the inevitable, as Lowe struck out the next batter, Hak-Ju Lee, on three pitches to close out the game for his sixth save in as many chances.
The Clippers and the Bulls meet again on Saturday evening for the third of a four-game series. Trevor Bauer (3-0, 1.40) is scheduled to take the ball for the Clippers. Bauer will be making his fifth start of the year with the Clippers, and sixth start overall. In his last start, a win over Norfolk last Sunday, Bauer threw more pitches (106) and lasted more innings (7) than he had in any start previously. Conversely, the two runs he allowed was also a season-high. Durham will send Merrill Kelly (4-0, 2.10) to the mound for his fifth start, and seventh overall appearance.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.