By Jason Wyrick
Photo by Jason Wyrick
It was a beautiful Friday night for baseball in Louisville. The Bats played a barn burner in front of a sparsely populated crowd of 5,143 announced at Louisville Slugger Field.
The baby Braves were in town for game two of this opening series in Louisville and a familiar face struck first blood in the top of the first. Gwinnett Stripers’ left fielder (and Louisville Cardinals and Bats alumnus) Adam Duvall singled up the middle to score Andre Blanco.
It took until the bottom of the fourth for the Bats to answer, Christian Colon singling to drive in one and knot it up once more.
In the top of the 5th, Gwinnett’s Rafael Ortega hit a solo shot off of Bats’ starter Vladimir Gutierrez, who would finish the inning. This home run would spell the end for Gutierrez’s night.
The Bats would answer in the bottom half of the 5th, though. It began with a Courtney Hawkins bloop single to center (his first career hit at the level) and some Gwinnept defense to help it along the way. Blake Trahan singled down the left field line to score Hawkins, once again knotting the game. That deadlock was short lived, however. Sherman Johnson, pinch hitting for the starter Gutierrez, delivered in a big way, giving the Bats their first lead of the game and ending Mike Soroka’s night on the mound.
The lead would only increase in the 6th. AAA rookie Chris Okey started behind the plate and knocked in a pair on a single to left. These were his second and third RBIs at the AAA level and should serve as a confidence boost after a shaky start at the plate, batting .130.
In the 7th, the Bats committed an error of their own. A Brian O’Grady throwing error trying to catch a runner advancing would allow Pedro Florimon to get to third before ultimately scoring on an Andres Blanco home run to tie the game once more.
In the bottom half, another bloop single from Josh VanMeter would retake the lead for Louisville, one it would attempt to protect for six more outs.
In the top of the ninth, Sal Romano retired the first two batters quietly. Then the wheels came off. He walked the bases loaded before anyone could even get up to stretch in the pen. Travis Demerritte stepped into the box with the tying and winning runs in scoring position and delivered a bases clearing double into the gap. The Stripers’ 9-7 lead would prove insurmountable.
The Bats return home on Saturday at 2 PM.