Stripers' Staff Dazzles in 6-0 Shutout of Columbus
COLUMBUS, OH - Four Gwinnett pitchers combined to allow only two hits and struck out 17 batters en route to a 6-0 shutout of the Columbus Clippers Thursday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series at Huntington Park.
Miguel Socolovich started the game for the Stripers in place of Max Fried, who was recalled by Atlanta. Socolovich worked 3.0 innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts. Luke Jackson (W, 2-1) also went 3.0 innings with one hit, one walk and six strikeouts. Evan Phillips pitched 2.0 innings and struck out all six batters he faced, and Jason Hursh finished off the shutout with two strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth.
Gwinnett pitchers struck out 10 of the last 12 batters in the game, including eight Columbus batters in a row from the seventh through ninth innings. The 17 strikeouts were the most for the club's staff since April 7, 2017 vs. Durham.
All four pitchers extended hot streaks with their performances: Socolovich now holds a scoreless streak of 11.2 innings dating back to April 27 vs. Durham; Jackson's scoreless streak stands at 9.0 innings since April 25 vs. Rochester; Hursh also has a scoreless streak of 8.0 innings dating back to April 25 vs. Rochester; and Phillips has allowed just one earned run over his last 18.0 innings in 11 games.
Offensively, the first Gwinnett run came in the top of the first when Peter Bourjos led off the game with a double to left and scored on a single to right by Danny Santana. A single by Austin Riley moved Santana to second and a ground out to first by Carlos Franco moved the runners to second and third. With one out, Rio Ruiz grounded out to second, plating Santana from third for a 2-0 lead.
The game stayed 2-0 until the top of the seventh when an infield single by Rob Brantley, a single to right by Tyler Smith and another infield single by Bourjos loaded the bases against starter Stephen Fife with no outs. Riley plated Brantley with a sacrifice fly to right for a 3-0 lead, prompting Columbus to bring in lefty Jeff Beliveau from the bullpen to face Franco. Franco then delivered a three-run homer (8) to left off Beliveau to make it a 6-0 lead and eventual final.
Fife (L, 2-4) pitched 6.2 innings with eight hits, five earned runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. Beliveau went 0.1 of an inning with one hit and one earned run. Matt Belisle pitched 1.0 inning with one hit and two strikeouts. Cole Sulser worked one inning with two strikeouts.
At the plate, Bourjos was 4-for-5 with two runs and a double. Franco was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer to push his IL leading RBI total to 35. He now has at least one RBI in four of his last five games.
For Columbus, Francisco Mejia and Nellie Rodriguez each were 1-for-4 to account for the Clippers' two hits.
The Gwinnett (14-23) win snapped a nine-game regular season losing streak at Huntington Park dating back to Aug. 15, 2015. The win, combined with a 3-2 Charlotte loss to Toledo, moved the Stripers into third place in the International League South Division by a half game. They remain 8.0 games back of Durham for first place.
The Stripers' road trip continues Friday night in Toledo with game one of a three game series against the Mud Hens. Right-hander Matt Wisler (1-2, 3.90) will start for Gwinnett, while Toledo will pitch righty Drew VerHagen (0-0, 0.87). Tony Schiavone the play-by-play call on 97.7 and 93.5 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m. First pitch set for 7:05 p.m.
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