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Behind Pino, Clippers take game two

On an overcast afternoon at Huntington Park, the Columbus Clippers were able to win their second-straight game over the Syracuse Chiefs on Sunday, 6-3.

Following a 13-2 win on Saturday night, the Columbus offense came out firing on all cylinders early in Sunday’s contest.

After Columbus starting pitcher Yohan Pino made quick work of the Chiefs’ top order, the Clippers’ offense picked up where it left off Saturday night plating two quick runs in the first inning and three more in the second.

Despite a Michael Brantley groundout to start the bottom of the first, RBI singles from Shelley Duncan and Brian Buscher resulted in an early 2-0 Clippers lead.

In the top of the second, Pino struggled to find the command he started the game with, but a strong throw to home plate from left fielder Brantley after a Chief’s double curbed the Chiefs’ offensive push at one run.

In the home half of the second, the Chiefs’ Collin Balester once again had trouble finding the strike zone and after two walks, Jason Donald made him pay with a two out, two RBI triples that pushed the Clippers lead to 4-1.

“We took advantage of the guy falling behind in counts,” Donald said. “Once he started falling behind in counts he gave us some good pitches and we started driving them.”

Catcher Carlos Santana got in on the second inning fun as well, doubling off the wall in right center to score Donald before Duncan’s fly out to left ended the offensive surge at 5-1.

Pino responded to the offensive help received from his teammates, shaking off his second-inning struggles and settling in on the mound.

Over six innings of work, Pino held the chiefs to three runs on seven hits to push his undefeated record this season to 4-0.

“He did a good job of not backing down and going after hitters,” Donald said. “He did a great job today just pounding the zone and continuing to throw strikes.”

After adding an insurance run on a Jose Constanza RBI blooper to centerfield in the sixth, Pino was pulled in favor of reliever Frank Hermann, who continued Columbus’ strong performance from the mound.

Pitching two innings of no-hit baseball in the seventh and eighth, Hermann gave way to closer Jess Todd in the ninth, who sealed the victory for the Clippers with his second save of the year.

Clippers Manager Mike Sarbaugh said overall he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“We scored some runs to separate ourselves for the lead and we were able to hold it,” Sarbaugh said. “The bullpen, especially Frank Hermann, threw the ball well today.”

The Clippers will return to Huntington Park on Monday with a chance to lock up the series win in the third game of their four-game stand with the Chiefs.

“I think our goal going in is always to try and win a series, but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Sarbaugh said. “Each day is a new day and we just have to go out and play hard and hope good things happen.”

With Sunday’s win Columbus now sits three games ahead of the Toledo Mud Hens for the International League’s Western Division at 16-9.

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