Bats Drop Series Finale to Gwinnett, 7-6
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - The Louisville Bats (28-44) dropped Thursday's series finale to the Gwinnett Stripers (39-32) by a 7-6 score at Coolray Field. Aristides Aquino had his 22-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-5 day, with the Bats having led in each of their last 11 losses after today.
For the second game in a row and the fourth time in their last five games, the Bats scored in the ballgame's first inning, when Josh VanMeter scooted around the bases after a pair of errors on the same play by the catcher and center fielder, respectively, allowed VanMeter to score after stealing second base. In his first game back with Louisville since having his contract selected by the Reds in early May, VanMeter went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
The Bats got another run in the second from another player who was making his return to the Louisville lineup, when center fielder Scott Schebler lined an opposite field home run to make it a 2-0 Bats lead in his first game back from the injured list. Gwinnett tied it 2-2 in the third before Louisville reclaimed a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth on RBI singles from catcher Stuart Turner and starting pitcher Lucas Sims.
Sims, the Lawrenceville, Georgia native, went 3.0-plus innings, allowing five earned runs on three hits, walking four and striking out six. He was removed after 81 pitches and 47 strikes, leaving the game after hitting a batter with the bases loaded to make it a 4-3 game, before the rain started pouring over Coolray Field. A 50-minute rain delay followed, chasing Sims out of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Louisville reliever Jackson Stephens limited the damage by inducing a groundout double play, but allowed a pair of inherited runners to score, giving the Stripers a 5-4 lead.
The Bats showed resiliency yet again, however, as they scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead, on a Nick Longhi RBI single to tie things up and a Brian O'Grady RBI force out, his team-leading 44th run driven in, to give Louisville another lead and take Sims off the hook for what could have been his first loss of the season.
Gwinnett ended up taking the lead from the Bats in the bottom of the eighth, when shortstop Luis Marte's two-out, two-RBI single dropped into shallow right field to give the Stripers a 7-6 lead. The Bats would threaten in the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles by Alex Blandino and VanMeter to start the inning, but could not bring the game-tying run to cross against Gwinnett reliever Jonathan Aro (2-0, 3.14), who earned his second victory of the series.
Aquino made the last out to end the game, a popout to first base, failing to extend his 22-game hitting streak, which is the second-highest in Louisville franchise history, trailing only Brandon Larson's 26-game hit streak set during the 2003 season.
The Bats continue their only three-city road trip of the season tomorrow at Charlotte, set to begin a three-game series with a day-night doubleheader the next day. Friday night's pitching matchup will feature Louisville right-hander Brad Markey (1-2, 10.22) opposing Charlotte right-hander Dylan Cease (5-2, 4.37) with a 7:04 first pitch.
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