By GREG MENGELT
Chris Nelson hit an infield single that scored Ruben Gotay with the game-winning run as Louisville beat the Columbus Clippers 6-5 in the their second straight home-opening walkoff victory.
With the game tied at 5-apiece, Gotay opened the bottom of the ninth with a double. After a Felix Perez sacrifice bunt got Gotay to third, Nelson grounded the ball to Jesus Aguilar at third base. Aguilar fielded the ball but had not play on Gotay at the plate.
The Bats are now 4-2 after beating the Clippers on consecutive nights — at Columbus on Wednesday and at Slugger Field on Thursday.
Nelson went 3 for 4 with three runs batted in. Gotay was 2 for 5 and scored a pair of runs in the victory. Jumbo Diaz got the win after pitching a scoreless ninth.
It appeared that the Bats took control of the game in the seventh inning.
Ryan LaMarre walked to open the frame and Jason Bourgeois moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Gotay followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Perez singled to bring home LaMarre and send Gotay to third to give Louisville a 3-2 lead. A Nelson groundout allowed Gotay to score to make it 4-2. Mike Costanzo then hit an RBI single to left field to score Perez and it was 5-2 Bats after seven innings.
The Clippers loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth. They pulled within 5-4 but appeared to fall short of tying the game when Ryan Rohlinger grounded to Nelson at third base. However, Costanzo dropped Nelson’s throw at first base to allow Tim Fedroff to score the tying run.
The Bats got off to a good start when Bourgeois opened the bottom of the first with a double and scored on a two-out Nelson single.
Columbus took a 2-1 lead after the top of the second on a walk, three hits and a Louisville error. Fedroff walked and went to third on a Roberto Perez double. Jose Ramirez then singled to bring home Perez.
Mike Wilson evened the game at 2-2 with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second. That’s the way the score stood until the seventh.
The Bats did have several opportunities to break the game open. Back-to-back singles by Felix Perez and Nelson gave the Bats a pair of baserunners, but Costanzo grounded out to end the third-inning rally.
Wilson reached on an error and Tucker Barnhart walked to start the fourth. After an Argenis Diaz sacrifice bunt, LaMarre walked to loaded the bases. However, Bourgeois hit into a double play to end the threat.
Louisville had at least one baserunner in each of the first five and eight of the game’s nine innings.