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Hit parade propels Clippers over Knights

A crowd of 5,475 at Huntington Field endured the cold weather with plenty of opportunities to stand up and cheer as the Clippers rallied for a season-high 19 hits in a 12-7 victory over the Charlotte Knights.

The game began with some offensive fireworks by both teams.

Yohan Pino, the Columbus Clippers starting pitcher, got into trouble early.

A walk to the leadoff hitter and an error by Wes Hodges put runners on first and second base. Charlotte’s Josh Kroeger hit a double to right field to score Alejandro De Aza and Jordan Danks.

Stefan Gartrell continued the offensive display with a home run off of the top of the right field scoreboard to score Kroeger and make the score 4-0 after the top of the first inning.
The Clippers responded with some offensive firepower in the bottom of the first. Jason Donald hit a home run to left field to put the Clippers on the scoreboard.

A walk by Carlos Santana and doubles by Shelley Duncan and Wes Hodges made the score 4-3.

Brian Buscher continued the rally with a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field to give the Clippers the 5-4 lead.

The Clippers kept it going, scoring five more runs in the second inning on six hits. After each of the first four batters hit singles, the Knights changed pitchers.

Dan Hudson, the Knights starting pitcher, finished the day with one inning pitched, allowing nine runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

Kyle McCulloch relieved Hudson. After McCulloch forced Chris Gimenez into a groundout, the Clippers had five straight singles, as Brian Bixler and Michael Brantley scored to bring the score to 12-4 at the end of the third inning.

“I’ve never really listened to people saying that hitting is contagious,” Donald said. “But when you see guys grinding at the plate and putting together good at-bats, it makes the pitcher work really hard and that sets up guys later on in the lineup.”

Charlotte’s Ramon Castro hit a two-run home run to left field in the top of the fifth inning to end the streak of 12 unanswered runs by the Clippers.

Adam Ricks, who replaced Ramon Castro at catcher for the Knights, had a sacrifice fly to score De Aza and bring the score to 12-7.

After a rough first inning, Pino found his groove and kept the Clippers ahead for the rest of the game to earn the win.

Manager Mike Sarbaugh was pleased with the pitching performance from Pino.

“He’s a battler, that was a tough first inning for him, but he really settled down and threw the ball well,” Sarbaugh said. “He got a little tired at the end but I was pleased with his performance.”

Pino pitched 5 1/3 innings allowing six hits, six runs (three earned) and two walks while striking out seven.

The Knights brought five pitchers to the mound in the loss.

Jason Donald led the hitting spree for the Clippers, going 4-for-4 with a home run, three singles, a walk, three RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Donald spoke of the importance of having solid bats around him in the lineup.

“You never give the pitcher a break, there’s not one guy in our lineup where the pitcher gets to relax,” Donald said. “He has to throw good quality pitches to each hitter. When a pitcher continually has to do that, he’s going to make mistakes because of physical and mental exertion. Tonight, we were able to capitalize on that.”

Tuesday’s game was the first game in a four-game series against the Knights.

The victory by the Clippers brought their record to 12-8 and kept them atop of the International League’s Western Division.

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