INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Indians (23-19) and Louisville Bats (13-28) traded the lead frequently early on in Tuesday’s ballgame, with the home team taking it last.
Indianapolis pitching stranded 13 Louisville runners on base, as the Indians walked away with a 5-3 win at Victory Field. The win puts the Tribe four games over .500 for the first time this season.
Louisville got on the board first, plating a run in the top of the first. Tribe starting pitcher Clay Holmes got off to a rough start, giving up consecutive singles to start the game. Those knocks led to a run-producing double play.
The Indians didn’t take to long to respond, going in front in the bottom of the first with two runs. A leadoff walk and a fielding error helped set the stage for Indy, as Jordan Luplow doubled home two to send the home team ahead after one.
The Bats continued to hit Holmes in the top of the second, using three straight one-out singles to load the bases with one out. Holmes followed with a strikeout for out number two, but a walk to Phillip Ervin forced home a run and tied the game at 2-2.
Louisville broke the tie in the fourth, grabbing a 3-2 edge versus Holmes and the Indians. It was a sloppy frame for Holmes, who walked two batters and made a throwing error. His most costly mistake of the inning came on a bases loaded wild pitch, bringing the go-ahead run home for the Bats with two outs.
Once Holmes walked a third batter in that fourth inning, Tribe manager Brian Esposito decided it time for a pitching change. Casey Sadler entered and got a fly out to end the inning, leaving Holmes with a final line of three runs allowed (two earned) on five hits and a season-worst five walks in 3.2 innings pitched.
Sadler helped hold Louisville in check the rest of the way, giving Indianapolis the chance to surge back ahead at the plate. Not only did they do just that, but they did it in short order and with Sadler at the forefront offensively.
The Tribe answered in the bottom of the fourth by scoring two runs and taking the lead right back. Ryan Lavarnway led off with a single, followed by a Wyatt Mathisen double. Jerrick Suiter was struck out looking for out number one, bringing Sadler to bat. Indy’s pitcher ripped a single to right, scoring both Lavarnway and Mathisen to shoot the home team back in front by a run at 4-3.
Lavarnway chipped in on some insurance in the sixth. The Indians’ catcher led off with a long double, one that possibly should have been ruled a home run but was ultimately decided on as a two-bagger. He was able to touch home a little bit later in the inning, scoring to make it 5-3 on a sacrifice fly from Suiter.
Sadler turned in 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Holmes. Dovydas Neverauskas came in to pitch next, blowing Louisville away with five strikeouts over the course of two shutout innings. Johnny Hellweg took over in the ninth, earning his ninth save despite another close call. The Bats started the ninth with back-to-back singles, but a bunt pop out and another game-ending double play sent the Tribe to victory.
Indy looks for another win over Louisville on Wednesday. First pitch from downtown Indianapolis is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. with Austin Coley (1-2, 9.00 ERA) penciled in to pitch for the Indians.