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Early Deficit Too Much for Bats in 9-5 Loss

June 14, 2024 - International League (IL)
Louisville Bats News Release

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - Louisville Bats starter Connor Phillips struggled from the outset, putting his team in a hole too big to climb out of in a 9-5 loss to the St. Paul Saints on Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field.

The Saints took the lead before Phillips even got an out in the first inning, as three straight single started the game, capped by Matt Wallner's RBI single to right. RBI singles from Yunior Severino and Tony Kemp made it 3-0, and Patrick Winkel's double put the visitors up 5-0 after their first turn at the plate.

In his first game back after being optioned to Louisville from the Cincinnati Reds earlier in the week, Blake Dunn was hit by the first pitch he saw to start the bottom of the first. He then swiped second for his 10th steal of the year to get into scoring position against Saints righty David Festa (W, 2-2). Three hitters later, Edwin Rios unloaded on a 3-0 pitch, crushing it 416 feet over the fence in dead center field for his 10th home run of the year, cutting the St. Paul lead to 5-2.

St. Paul responded swiftly in the second, plating three more runs off Phillips to extend their advantage to 8-2, and it would be a while before the Bats got closer.

In just three innings, Phillips (L, 2-5) allowed eight runs on 11 hits over three innings, walking one and striking out four in his third consecutive loss. In long relief for the Bats, Christian Roa gave up one Saints run over 2.2 frames, walking three and striking out a pair.

After Rios' homer in the first, the Bats could produce little off Festa. He struck out 10 Bats over six innings, giving up the two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts to earn the victory.

Yosver Zulueta pitched 1.1 innings for Louisville, working around three hits to hold the deficit at 9-2. Alex Young was next into the game and made quick work of the Saints in the eighth.

Louisville finally was able to begin a comeback in the bottom of the eighth off Saints reliever Austin Brice. Levi Jordan singled, Erik Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, and Dunn walked to load the bases with nobody out. A balk allowed Jordan to score and moved the other runners to second and third. Livan Soto kept the rally going with an infield single, plating Gonzalez from third. Rece Hinds then lifted a sacrifice fly to right, plating Dunn to make it a 9-5 game after eight.

Zach Maxwell held the Saints scoreless in the ninth. But Louisville would get no closer against Saints righty Jeff Brigham in the bottom of the inning as the reliever finished off the win for the visitors.

With the loss, the Bats' season-long losing streak goes to five games while they have suffered their first home series defeat of the 2024 season, dropping the first four to St. Paul. Offensively, Soto, Rios, and Jordan all recorded a pair of hits while Dunn went 0-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base.

The Bats (34-32) and Saints (31-35) continue the series on Saturday night. First pitch at Louisville Slugger Field is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Nick Curran and Jim Kelch will be on the call for 1450/96.1 WXVW.

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