--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
There was a holiday on Thursday in Louisville. The Bats played in their opening night.
Louisville’s oldest team ended their four-game home losing streak on home opening day, with a 7-6 win against Gwinnett. The Bats played scrappy and turned a grand-slam deficit into a win; thanks to a pair of long balls from first baseman Brian O’Grady.
Bats starting pitcher Keury Mella did not have his best night. The 6-2 right-hander only managed to throw three innings; and allowed five runs (all earned) on six hits and two base on balls. Two of his 72 pitches went over the fence.
Gwinnett led 4-0 after the first two innings. Andres Blanco drove in Rafael Ortega in the first, and hit his first home run of 2019 in the second. Blanco’s home run went over the center-field wall, and drove in Luis Marte and Ortega.
Bats newcomer Aristides Aquino cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the second. He belted a two-run home run 423 feet to left-center on the third pitch of the at-bat. Christian Colon scored on the play.
Raffy Lopez knocked his first home run to right field in the top of the third. It was a solo shot.
Aquino responded in the fourth. He hit a ball deep enough to straightaway center field that Josh VanMeter was able to score.
Louisville finally gained the lead in the sixth inning, when O’Grady hit his first home run. He hit an absolute O’bomb to right field on a full-count. Colon also scored on the play.
Gwinnett starter Bryce Wilson was knocked out of the game after he finished the sixth inning. Wilson’s six runs allowed were all earned, and were on eight hits. He only managed to strike out two. Wilson also received the loss.
O’Grady was not satisfied with just hitting a home run off Gwinnett’s starter. In the eighth, he hit a 393-foot solo-shot to left-center field.
Gwinnett managed to scrape one run via sacrifice fly in the ninth. It was all they would manage to squander.
Ian Krol notched the win. Wilson received the loss. Anthony Bass saved his first game.
Louisville moves to 4-4. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (1-0, 3.38) looks to win game No. 2 against RHP Mike Soroka (1-0, 0.00). The game is at 7pm. Gutierrez led all Cincinnati Reds minor-leaguers with 145 strikeouts in 2018. The River City will get their first look at the Reds No. 8 prospect.