--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photos by Jared Anderson, River City Cards
After dropping a series to Pawtucket, the Louisville Bats opened one against the best team in the International League.
They defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 5-3.
Brian O’Grady wasted no time giving Louisville the lead. He singled in CJ McElroy on a 1-1 count, with a hit to right.
Then, in the bottom of the third, the Bats tacked on another run. Gabriel Guerrero belted his 15th home run of 2018, on a 1-0 count; sending the ball for a ride to straightaway center field.
Louisville led 2-0 after three. The IronPigs got one back in the top of the fourth. Mitch Walding sent Dean Anna home on his 17th double of the season.
Louisville put one batter on base in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading to the exit of Lehigh Valley starter Ranger Suarez. The LHP went 5 innings, had both Louisville runs to that point credited to him, which were earned; on five hits and two walks. He struck out only two.
Another run was tacked on to Suarez on a throwing error by the catcher, attempting to pickoff O’Grady at third. Instead, the first-baseman scored. The run was earned.
It also closed the book on Suarez. He gave up three runs, all earned, on five innings pitched.
Louisville starter Lucas Sims was nothing short of impressive. He went six innings, and gave up just two hits and two walks. He gave up one run, which was earned, and struck out seven. He moved his ERA from 2.77 to 2.68.
Danny Ortiz drove in a run for Lehigh Valley with an RBI single to first. Two runs scored.
Then, in the eighth, the Bats pulled ahead. First, Taylor Sparks hit an RBI single to right, scoring O’Grady. Then, Josh VanMeter hit his 16th double of the year to score Sparks.
Kevin Quackenbush came on in the ninth to save the game.
Louisville moves to 52-62. They take on the IronPigs tomorrow at 6:30 pm. LHP Justin Nicolino (5-6, 4.92) takes on RHP Enyel De Los Santos (9-4, 2.51). The game is Hulk Night at Slugger Field.