NORFOLK – The Columbus Clippers (60-55) were completely shut down offensively on Saturday night as they fell to the Norfolk Tides (58-57) by a final score of 3-1.
The Clippers mustered only four hits on the night, and their lone run came on a solo home run by second baseman Cord Phelps in the fourth inning. It was his 12th home run of the year, but outside of this brief burst his team couldn’t muster much of anything at the plate.
The loss was no fault of the pitching staff, which had a few moments of vulnerability but performed more than well enough for a win. Columbus starter David Huff (5-5, 4.97 ERA) allowed eight hits in 5.1 innings, but just one Norfolk run came in to score. His start resulted in a no decision.
This Tides run came in the third inning on an RBI single by shortstop Steve Tolleson, his 15th run batted in of the year.
The loss for Columbus went to reliever Scott Barnes; his second of the year. The Tides took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh inning with a clutch two-out, two-run double by designated hitter Bill Hall. This put his team ahead 3-1, and this is how it would end.
The Clippers’ bats fell short time and time again against every hurler that Norfolk threw their way. Three of their four hits on the night came against Tides starter Jason Berken (3-4, 3.53 ERA), who went 6.2 innings and allowed just the single run on Phelps’ solo shot. He also walked two while striking out four.
After another 1.2 perfect innings hurled by Norfolk reliever Miguel Socolovich, Columbus had one last gasp in the ninth inning that nearly resulted in a comeback. Against the Tides’ Zach Phillips, the Clippers loaded the bases with two walks and a double. This gave the red-hot Vinny Rottino a chance as a pinch-hitter with two outs, but he struck out on the payoff pitch. Rottino was returning to Columbus after a brief stint with the Cleveland Indians while Travis Hafner was on the paternity list.
Credit for the victory went to Socolovich, and it is his fourth win of the year. In 27 games in the minors this year he has a stellar ERA of 1.97.
The Clippers will conclude their series in Norfolk with a 6:15 p.m. contest on Sunday before moving on to a four-game set in Durham.