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Bats Win Pitcher's Duel Over Stripers 2-1

April 2, 2024 - International League (IL)
Louisville Bats News Release

LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia - The Louisville Bats turned a deficit into a lead with a pair of fourth-inning home runs, which proved to be enough to back a dominant pitching performance from Connor Phillips and two relievers in a 2-1 win over the Gwinnett Stripers on Tuesday night at Coolray Field.

Making his season debut for the Bats, Phillips got off to an inauspicious start in the bottom of the first. On Phillips' fourth pitch of the season, Gwinnett leadoff man J.P. Martinez hit a high fly ball off the wall in left for a triple. David Fletcher followed with an RBI ground out to short, bringing in Martinez to open the scoring. From there, Phillips was on his game, and the Bats were able to support their starter.

A ground ball double play quickly erased a Stripers threat in the bottom of the second. Phillips followed that by retiring the side in the third, with the help of two spectacular catches from Blake Dunn. First, he made a diving play in the right-center field gap to rob a base hit from Sebastian Rivero. Then, he made an incredible leaping catch to take at least a double, if not a home run, away from Martinez to end the inning.

Leading off the fourth, the Bats got even on Mike Ford's first hit as a Bat, a 377-foot solo home run into the Louisville bullpen in right field to tie the game at one against Gwinnett righty Allan Winans. Two hitters later, Conner Capel connected on a towering 411-foot home run to deep right-center, his first big fly with the Bats, to put the visitors in front for the first time 2-1.

Pitching with the lead for the first time, Phillips was even better. Following a walk and a single to start the Stripers fourth, Phillips induced a double play from Luis Liberato and got a fly out from Luke Waddell to strand the tying run on third. A leadoff single did little to deter Phillips in the fifth. In the sixth, a pair of one-out walks gave the Stripers a chance to get even. But Phillips ended his night with a strikeout of Liberato and a ground out from Waddell to leave the runners on base.

Over six innings, Phillips (W, 1-0) allowed one run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts to earn his first victory of the year with the Bats' first quality start of 2024 in their first road game of the season.

First out of the bullpen, Bats righty Casey Legumina made quick work of the Stripers in the seventh. He returned for the eighth and struck out a pair to leave a runner on first, preserving the one-run lead. Legumina pitched two scoreless innings to pick up his first hold of the season. In the ninth, Tony Santillan (S, 2) was dominant to set the Stripers down in order and earn his second save in as many chances.

Offensively, Capel paced the Bats offense by going 2-for-3 with the home run, a single, and a stolen base while Ford went 2-for-4 in the win against his former team.

For the Stripers, Winans (L, 0-1) pitched 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts to take the loss in the pitcher's duel.

Louisville (3-1) and Gwinnett (2-2) continue their series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Coolray Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Brett Kennedy is scheduled to make his season debut on the mound for the Bats. Nick Curran will have the call on 1450/96.1 WXVX.

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