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Clippers walk-off to another win, 5-4

Clippers walk-off to another win, 5-4
April 11, 2012
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COLUMBUS - It was a cold night in Columbus Tuesday, with temperatures dropping into the high-30s, but on the diamond, the Columbus Clippers managed to stay hot.

The Clippers (5-1), won their fifth game in a row—second straight on a walk-off hit—beating the Indianapolis Indians (2-3), 5-4, in front of 4,245 fans at Huntington Park.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Clippers’ first baseman Russ Canzler hit a line-drive single to left field, bringing home pinch runner Chad Huffman to give Columbus the win.

The Clippers’ bullpen didn’t allow any runs for the second night in a row, and Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said the performance of his relief pitchers was key.

“I think for any club, when you’re in tight games down the stretch, when you go to your bullpen, that makes or breaks how things turn out,” he said. “Especially when you’re not scoring runs like we were after the first few innings, they did a great job of keeping us in the game and keeping us right there.”

Columbus right-hander Zach McAllister, making his second start of the season, lasted six innings in the victory, striking out seven batters while giving up four runs, none of which were earned. McAllister went six innings on opening day, a 5-4 loss to Louisville, letting in three earned runs in a no-decision.

Left-hander Rudy Owens was on the mound for Louisville in his first start of the year, giving up four earned runs in five innings.

Columbus was last in the International League in home-run differential heading into Tuesday’s contest, but you wouldn’t have thought it based on the night’s performance. Three Clippers—right fielder Trevor Crowe, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and left fielder Matt LaPorta—all homered on Tuesday.

Crowe opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Crowe took an Owens pitch deep to center field for a home run, his first of the season, to give Columbus an early 1-0 lead.

Columbus added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.

After a towering solo shot to right-center field by Chisenhall, his second of the season, the hustle of Crowe paid dividends with another run.

With two outs in the inning, Crowe beat out a chopper down the third base line. A couple pitches later, Crowe stole second base, and a pitch after the steal, Clippers’ shortstop Andy Laroche plated Crowe with a single up the middle to give Columbus a 3-0 lead after four frames.

McAllister kept the Indians off the scoreboard with his good stuff working early. Through four innings of work, he struck out three Indianapolis batters, two of which came looking on sharp-breaking curveballs that crossed the outside corner of the plate.

Two errors by the Clippers’ defense in the top of the fifth inning proved to be very costly, as Indianapolis scored four unearned runs in the inning, all with two outs, to take a 4-3 lead.

Chisenhall made a nice play at third, back-handing a hard-hit groundball by Indians left fielder Gorkys Hernandez, but his throw to first base was too low for Canzler to handle. Hernandez reached second base on the error, and Indians’ catcher, Eric Fryer, who reached on a single, advanced to third base.

A batter later, Fryer and Hernandez scored on a single to center field.

A wild throw to third base by Clippers’ catcher Luke Carlin in an attempt to throw out Indians’ center fielder Starling Marte, who was stealing, allowed Marte to score. Indianapolis took the lead on an RBI base hit to center field by Indians’ shortstop Jordy Mercer.

LaPorta got one of those runs back for Columbus, tying the game in the bottom of the inning with a home run to left field, his third of the season. He went 2-6 in the game, and in now batting .346 through six games.

“He’s played very well. He’s played some first, played left. He’s come here with a great attitude and been working hard, and it’s been paying off for him,” Sarbaugh said.

Three innings of shutout ball in relief by Clippers’ right-hander’s Hector Ambriz and Jeremy Acccardo kept the game tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Columbus was unable to score.

After two-and-a-half innings with no score by either team, the Clippers’  finally struck in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Carlin singled to left, Clippers’ second baseman Cord Phelps walked, and LaPorta reached when his blooper to shallow center field dropped in between three Indians.

Sarbaugh was pleased with the way his team approached its at bats in the inning.

“Luke starting it off with the hit, I thought it was key Cord Phelps got a hit, and luckily, the ball LaPorta hit was able to drop in, that kind of set up the inning,” Sarbaugh said.

Canzler then singled to left field, plating Huffman, to give the Clippers their second-straight walk-off win.

Columbus and Indianapolis will play the third of a four-game series at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday at Huntington Park.

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