LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On the final day of the 2016 regular season, it was the Louisville Bats that won the battle for second place in the International League West.
Tony Renda‘s two-out RBI single in the seventh was the difference, as the Indianapolis Indians wrapped up the season with a 4-1 loss at Louisville Slugger Field. The loss leaves the Tribe with a final record of 70-74, their worst mark since finishing 68-76 in 2008.
Starting pitchers John Kuchno (Indianapolis) and Keury Mella (Louisville) threw up zeroes on the scoreboard early on, but runs in the bottom of the fourth and the top of the fifth made it 1-1.
Kuchno appeared to be on his way to shutting down the Bats again in the fourth, but three straight two-out singles resulted in a 1-0 Louisville lead. The Tribe responded in the top of the fifth, though, using a two-out solo home run from Trace Tam Sing to tie the score at a run each. The homer was not only Tam Sing’s first long ball as an Indian, but his first career home run as a professional.
Each side’s starter turned in fantastic performances to cap the season. Kuchno tied a season best with six innings pitched for Indy, surrendering one run on six hits and two walks. Mella was just as good for the Bats in his Triple-A debut, giving up one run on three hits and a walk over the course of seven innings of work.
Following Kuchno’s departure, Louisville took the lead for good. With Tribe reliever Josh Smith on the hill in the bottom of the seventh, the Bats turned a leadoff walk into the deciding run. Beau Amaral drew the walk to open the frame, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored when Renda notched the clutch two-out single to give the home team the 2-1 advantage.
The Bats would not stop there, however, as they added two insurance runs versus Jhondaniel Medina in the eighth. A one-out rally got it going for Louisville, with a Jesse Winker single and a Seth Mejias-Brean RBI triple off of the right field wall pushing the Bats ahead 3-1. Chris Berset came to the plate next and made it a 4-1 ballgame, lifting a fly ball deep enough to center for a sacrifice fly.
Louisville’s bullpen was stellar in relief of Mella, retiring the Tribe in order. Former Indian A.J. Morris sat Indianapolis down 1-2-3 in the eighth, with closer Kevin Shackelford tossing a perfect ninth to secure the win for the Bats.
Monday’s loss puts Indy in third place in the final division standings, finishing one game behind Louisville and 12 games back of the IL West champion Columbus Clippers.