GWINNETT – After dropping two tough games on Friday, the Columbus Clippers (32-37) bounced back Saturday night with a 6-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves (37-33).
Much of the credit for the victory goes to Clippers starter Chris Schwinden (4-5, 2.70 ERA), who pitched seven stellar innings and allowed just one run on three hits. He walked just one and struck out three in the win.
The Clippers scored their first run in the third inning, as a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Ezequiel Carrera moved two runners into scoring position. Third baseman Jason Donald was then able to bring a run in with an RBI single.
Columbus extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth with a solo home run by designated hitter Russ Canzler. It was his sixth of the year. Gwinnett answered with a solo shot of their own in the bottom of the inning, as Braves left fielder Jose Constanza blasted his first of the year to make it a 2-1 game. Unfortunately for the Braves, this would be the only offense they’d get.
While Gwinnett pitching allowed eleven hits throughout the game, they were usually able to avoid the catastrophic inning. The Clippers got to the Braves bullpen early, and Gwinnett starter Julio Teheran (5-3, 3.24 ERA) lasted just four innings. He only allowed two runs on six hits, but he threw 86 pitches and went on to get the loss.
It was a huge night for the Clippers’ Canzler. He went 2-for-4 on the night with the fourth-inning home run, an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth, and a bases-clearing double in the ninth that gave Columbus a 6-1 lead and all but assured the victory. Of the Clippers’ six runs on the night, he batted five of them in.
Canzler’s ninth-inning double was the climax of a particularly strange rally that began with a Donald strikeout, yet he reached first on a wild pitch. Clippers second baseman Cord Phelps then reached thanks to a throwing error by Braves second baseman Lance Zawadzki. Columbus then loaded the bases for Canzler, who made Gwinnett pay.
It was also a good night for the Clippers bullpen, as relievers Cody Allen and Frank Herrmann each pitched scoreless innings to secure the win. They threw three combined strikeouts, and only one Brave was able to reach base safely.
The Clippers will finish their series in Gwinnett on Sunday with a first pitch at 2:05 p.m.