Clippers take out Rail Riders, 4-3
Audy Ciriaco broke an 0-for-11 slump with a three-run homer in the second inning.
COLUMBUS, OH – Audy Ciriaco broke an 0-for-11 slump with a three-run homer to right center field in the second inning, and Tyler Holt hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the fourth inning and the Columbus Clippers (34-33) held off the visiting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (32-34) 4-3 in front of a sold out crowd of 10,478 at Huntington Park on Friday night.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Bruce Billings (4-2, 4.89) was going well through the first five batters until a four-pitch walk to Carlos Moncrief started the Clippers rally with two outs in the second. After Roberto Perez singled for the Clippers first hit, Ciriaco dispatched the second pitch of his bat under the Dispatch advertisement above the scoreboard in right-center.
Holt added to the lead in fourth with a two-out home run over the centerfield wall. The homer was his first was the first of the year for him at any level and the fifth of his career that has spanned five seasons.
“He put a good swing on that pitch. Good at-bat; he’s been having solid at-bats. He hit a ball to right field earlier in the game and he stayed on it well. He got a pitch up and he put a good pitch on it and hit the ball a long way. I thought it was going to get over his head, I didn’t really think it was going to get out. He had some good back spin on it. That’s the farthest I’ve ever seen him hit the ball.”
Travis Banwart (4-2, 3.59) sailed through the first three innings, allowing only one base runner. Antoan Richardson led off the fourth with a triple and Zoilo Almonte drove him in with a two-run laser shot over the wall in left to put the Rail Riders on the board.
Banwart gave up a leadoff single followed by the walk to open the seventh. It appeared like he was going to avoid damage after Robert Refsnyder hit a first-pitch bouncer to second baseman Ryan Rohlinger who touched second and threw him out at first to complete the double play. But Austin Romine worked him for six pitches and on the seventh pitch, lined one off Banwart’s leg. The ball rolled far enough out of his reach toward the first base side to allow Romine to reach first and the third run to cross the plate. Austin Adams came in and finished off the inning on just three pitches, getting a grounder to third to end the threat.
Overall, Banwart pitched 6.1 innings and allowed six hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. It was also the first time in the month of June that he pitched passed four innings and his first win in almost a month (May 17).
“He threw the ball well. He kept us in the ballgame throughout,” Tremie said. “He was more efficient with his fastball. He threw some good off-speed pitches, as he usually does and he kept them off balance. He gives us a chance to win, held the lead and gave us a quality start.”
Vinnie Pestano pitched the ninth and made it through without any base-runners. He struck out a pair of Rail Riders to open the inning before getting the final out via a lineout to left. Pestano has not given up a run since May 14, which covers 11 appearances and 10.2 innings. Over that period of time, he has recorded three saves, two of which have occurred over the past two games including Friday night.
The Clippers and the Rail Riders continue their four-game set with the third installment on Saturday at 7:05 PM. Right-hander Zach McAllister (1-0, 3.00) continues his rehab stint with Columbus. In his first start with the Clippers he went six innings, and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts in a 14-2 win over Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will counter with righty Brian Gordon (4-5, 4.46), who has pitched against Columbus five times (one start). He is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings with eight strikeouts and seven walks.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.