INDIANAPOLIS – The Louisville Bats (60-74) continue to torment the Indianapolis Indians (71-66).
Tribe second baseman Kevin Kramer went 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs but it didn’t prove to be enough, as the Bats scored two in the ninth to shock Indy at home.
The loss is very costly for the Indians, who now find themselves in third place in the IL West for the first time since May 7. The Toledo Mud Hens defeated the Columbus Clippers, pulling the Hens a half-game behind Columbus for #1 in the division. Indy sits a game behind the Clippers.
As for the wild card hunt, the Tribe are now behind Toledo by a half-game. But not even the Mud Hens lead the wild card standings, as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have surged ahead for a half-game lead over Toledo and a full game cushion over Indianapolis.
Just three games remain in the regular season, with the Mud Hens and Clippers dueling while the Indians deal with Louisville.
A frequent flurry of offense got Friday night’s ballgame underway.
Louisville got one run each in innings one and two, but the Indians dropped a two-spot in the first. Even at 2-2, Indianapolis got two more runs in the third to seize a 4-2 advantage through three.
Kramer was completely entrenched in Indy’s offensive attack, driving home three of the four early runs. It was his two-run double in that third inning that shot the home team ahead.
Mitch Keller pitched for the Tribe, giving up those two early runs before firing three consecutive scoreless frames. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to produce a fourth.
The Bats evened things up at 4-4 in the sixth, sending Keller to the showers. Taylor Sparks launched a two-run homer off of Keller to tie the score and later in the frame, Indianapolis had to pull their starter.
Keller finished up with a final line of four runs allowed on nine hits and two walks in 5.2 innings of work.
Friday’s contest remained deadlocked at four runs apiece until the eighth, when the Indians received some heroics. Kramer picked up his fourth RBI of the evening and handed Indy the lead with one swing of the bat, cranking a solo homer that gave the Tribe a 5-4 edge.
Just three outs from victory, the Indians were unable to close.
Louisville quickly took the air out of the home crowd, getting the run back from Kramer’s long ball just two batters into the ninth. Indianapolis reliever Damien Magnifico served up a double and a single to open the ninth, letting the Bats make it a 5-5 just like that. And they weren’t done.
A walk and an error on a forceout allowed the visitors to jump in front, stunning the Indians late in a game of high importance.
Indy did get a little something cooking in their half of the ninth, getting consecutive two-out singles before Louisville shut the door for good.
Saturday night will see the Tribe’s final home game of the 2018 regular season. Game time between the Indians and Bats is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.