GWINNETT – It was a neck-and-neck affair for eight innings, but a big ninth ultimately ensured a victory for the Columbus Clippers on Sunday, as they beat the Gwinnett Braves by a final score of 6-2.
The stats for both teams were almost identical across the board, and the Braves actually outhit the Clippers 11-9, but Columbus had the advantage where it counted. It was a pitcher’s duel for much of the game, as both Clippers starter Zach McAllister (5-2, 2.98 ERA) and Braves starter Yohan Flande (3-5, 3.95 ERA) each went six innings and allowed seven hits. McAllister got the advantage in the runs department, allowing just two while Flande allowed three.
Scoring began in the third inning with each team getting two. Clippers second baseman Cord Phelps gave his team a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning with his seventh home run of the year, but the Braves would answer right back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI groundout by center fielder Luis Durango and an RBI double by shortstop Tyler Pastornicky.
The Clippers wound get the lead for good in the fifth inning, and it came courtesy of Phelps’ third RBI of the game. His sacrifice fly to right brought in center fielder Ezequiel Carrera to make the score 3-2.
The score would remain the same until the ninth, and both teams got solid contributions from their bullpens. The Braves had a couple shots—in the seventh inning they were able to get a man on third—but they were never able to bring the tying run in.
Any remaining doubt was removed in the ninth. Columbus was able to take advantage of shaky pitching by Gwinnett reliever Adam Russell, and they got three runs home to make it 6-2. Russell came out to pitch the ninth, but he could not get a single out. Instead he walked three, allowed two hits and was promptly removed from the game. Two of Russell’s walks came with the bases loaded.
The Braves tried to start a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but Columbus’ Chris Ray was able to shut the door. Gwinnett right fielder Felix Pie got a leadoff single, and ultimately the Braves were able to get runners on second and third. They would advance no further, and Braves left fielder Jose Constanza struck out to end the game.
The Clippers will finish up their road trip with a four-game series against the Charlotte Knights that begins Monday at 7:15 p.m. The two teams played a series in Columbus earlier this month, which they split.