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McAllister leads Columbus Clippers to split doubleheader, series with Pawtucket Red Sox

After enduring two postponed games because of inclement weather in their series with the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Columbus Clippers split a doubleheader Friday, losing the first game, 5-2, and winning the second, 3-0.

The series, which was set to begin Tuesday, was pushed until Wednesday because of poor weather. There were two more weather-related postponements during the four-game series before it ended Friday night.

“It has been a little tough because we haven’t been able to take batting practice in a week, so we have been off that a little bit,” Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said. “But the guys have handled it well, and we know it’s part of the game.”

The first game of Friday’s doubleheader began at 5:05 p.m., finishing up the five innings that were left over from Thursday night. The Clippers lost the game, 5-2, but they weren’t finished.

The second game began at 7:05 p.m. and lasted seven innings. The Clippers pulled out a 3-0 win behind right-handed pitcher Zach McAllister, who is now 7-0 on the season after holding the Red Sox to just three hits. The Clippers (28-14) and Red Sox (21-20) finished the series, 2-2.

McAllister is the first International League pitcher to obtain seven victories on the season, according to the Clippers website.

“I felt like I was able to use my fastball pretty well tonight and locate both sides of the plate,” McAllister said. “Obviously I left a couple pitches that they were able to hit, but I thought I had a decent mix. I like to get early outs, and when I have my defense behind me, that’s huge.”

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when Clippers outfielder Josh Rodriguez homered to center field, putting the Clippers on the board, 1-0.

“Off the bat I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t think I hit it well enough to, or at least high enough to, get it out,” Rodriguez said. “But the ball was traveling well tonight, and I was able to get it out.”

The other two runs resulted from a Red Sox error in the bottom of the sixth inning, clinching the win for the Clippers.

“In games like this where you have seven innings, you like to get on the board early, help your pitcher out, help him relax, but Zach didn’t really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He pitched a hell of a game. We got on the board early. It was a good outing for us, and that’s what we needed.”

Many players said the inclement weather put a damper on the Clippers’ normal routine.

“You have to get used to it,” McAllister said. “Everyone plays in bad weather, but I don’t think it affects us as much as some people might think. I’ve played in it my entire life. It’s just a matter of getting your mind right before you go out.”

However, Sarbaugh noted, the weather can affect the overall routine of the team.

“Baseball players are routine oriented, so we have been off that a little bit,” Sarbaugh said. “I think it shows more in the defense because you aren’t getting that defensive work during batting practice, but the guys have handled it well.”

The Clippers will host a four-game series against the Durham Bulls (24-17) beginning May 21.

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