Courtesy of Columbus Clippers
Aaron Craft took a break from basketball to head to the baseball diamond. The junior Ohio State men’s basketball guard threw out the first pitch for the Columbus Clippers in the team’s home opener at Huntington Park.
“It’s definitely a humbling experience to know you get to do something like that, especially opening night,” Craft said.
The Clippers went on to win the game, 7-6, on their way to a 2-2 series split against the Indianapolis Indians over the weekend.
Columbus lost the series final, 12-7, Sunday after splitting a double header Saturday. On Friday, the Clippers, who are the minor league affiliate for the Cleveland Indians, rolled out pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to take the mound, but the former Boston Red Sox right-hander lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up three runs before leaving with an undisclosed injury.
Matsuzaka is attempting to make a comeback after having UCL reconstruction, also called Tommy John surgery, in June 2011.
The Clippers’ bats hit their stride in the second inning when third baseman Ryan Rohlinger knocked an RBI single to center field bringing in shortstop Juan Diaz. Catcher Roberto Perez followed with another single to bring center fielder Cedric Hunter home to score. In the same inning, designated hitter Jeremy Hermida doubled to deep left field to score two more. Diaz and Hunter tacked onto the lead in their second at bats of the inning to help extend the lead to 7-0. The Clippers scored all of their runs in the inning.
“We got a pretty good lineup and when everybody is on and we hit like we need to, we’re pretty good,” Hunter said after the game. The Indians chipped away though. Indianapolis scored three runs in the third to cut the deficit to four and added two more in the fifth. Indians’ shortstop Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly scored third baseman Jared Goedert to make the score 7-6 in the sixth.
That would mark the end of the scoring, though. Clippers relievers Rob Bryson and Preston Guilmet combined to pitch a scoreless last three innings and ensure the victory.
“Great atmosphere. Columbus is a great city. They bring in great fans,” Columbus reliever Scott Barnes said after the game.
The Clippers are 6-5 on the season.