INDIANAPOLIS – An impressive comeback turned into a disappointing defeat for the Indianapolis Indians (52-41) on Sunday.
The Tribe used a four-run sixth inning to erase a 4-1 deficit, but Phillip Ervin‘s two-run double in the top of the ninth allowed the Louisville Bats (37-56) to walk away with a 6-5 win at Victory Field. It was just Indy’s fourth loss of the year when leading after eight innings (43-4).
Louisville’s victory split the four-game set at the Vic at two games each.
Louisville jumped on Indians starting pitcher Tyler Eppler early, scoring three runs in a big second inning.
The Bats sent eight batters to the plate in the frame, with four of those batters recording a hit and one drawing a walk. Chad Wallach drove in the first run with a single and Alex Blandino ripped a two-run triple into the left field alley next, making it 3-0.
Eppler needed 38 pitches to get through two innings, but responded with consecutive 1-2-3 frames. Louisville struck again in the fifth, however, as Darnell Sweeney drilled a solo homer square off of the right field foul pole.
Eppler’s afternoon ended after six innings of work, as the right-hander finished with a final line of four runs allowed on nine hits and one free pass. It was his longest outing since throwing seven innings of two-run ball in a win versus the Columbus Clippers on June 11.
Amir Garrett, who found some success with the Cincinnati Reds early on this season, opposed Eppler on the hill. Louisville’s lefty was solid through five innings, keeping Indy off of the scoreboard outside of an odd third frame.
In that third inning, Chris Bostick came up with a two-out single and ultimately scored without a ball even going into play. Garrett attempted to mow Bostick down with a pickoff throw to first, but the ball sailed down to the first base bullpen area and Bostick ended up on third. Then, Garrett fired a wild pitch, allowing Bostick to scurry home for the Tribe’s first run.
Garrett returned to the mound in the sixth, where everything unraveled for the southpaw.
All five batters Garrett faced in the inning reached, with Jordan Luplow and Joey Terdoslavich each hitting RBI doubles. Louisville’s lone All-Star selection, Kevin Shackelford, replaced Garrett and faced a bases loaded situation. Shackelford got Jacob Stallings to strike out swinging, but pinch-hitter Erich Weiss came through for Indianapolis. Weiss shot a two-run single through the right side of the infield, completing a four-run frame that gave the Tribe their first lead at 5-4.
Once the dust settled, Garrett was charged with a final line of five runs allowed on nine hits and two walks in 5+ innings of work.
Indy’s newfound lead was now put in the hands of their bullpen.
Montana DuRapau made his Triple-A debut in the seventh, retiring the Bats in order. Angel Sanchez pitched next, throwing a perfect inning of his own in the eighth. Edgar Santana then entered in the ninth, but could not close it out.
The top of the ninth started with a double from Blandino and after a one-out walk to Sweeney, the Bats were in business. Ervin stepped up to the dish next and gave Louisville a 6-5 lead. His double split Indianapolis’ outfielders in left and center, scoring both runners to shock the Tribe.
The Indians put the tying run on in the bottom of the ninth and pinch-hitter Danny Ortiz just fell short of hitting a walk-off home run, but the Bats held on to win the ballgame.
Following the 2-2 homestand, Indy now heads out to Durham on Monday to begin a week-long road trip. Steven Brault (7-4, 2.00 ERA) is set to make his first start post-All-Star break in Monday’s 7:05 p.m. opener against the Bulls.