Catcher Tony Sanchez completed an improbable Indianapolis Indians (13-6) comeback with a two-out two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Tribe took down the Louisville Bats (9-9) 5-4 on Monday night at Victory Field.
After being shutout for the first seven innings and trailing 4-0, the Indians finally got on the board with three consecutive singles by RF Jerry Sands, Sanchez and 1B Jared Goedert with one out in the bottom of the eighth, the latter of which plated Sands to give the Tribe its first run of the game. The Indians then took advantage of control issues by Louisville reliever Jose Arredondo, who issued back-to-back walks to force in Sanchez and cut the Bats lead to 4-2.
Louisville looked to escape for good when, following the bases-loaded walk to 2B Josh Harrison, Arredondo induced an inning ending double from the recently red-hot 3B Jordy Mercer. However, Indianapolis did not go away quietly as SS Brandon Inge drew a hit by pitch to lead off the bottom of the ninth, before a pinch-hit single by Ivan De Jesus and walk to LF Brett Carroll loaded the bases with no outs.
Unfortunately, the Tribe once again fell victim to the double play as Sands rolled into a 5-3 twin killing that allowing Inge to score, but pushed the Indians to their final out of the contest. Sanchez then stepped up to the plate and completed the improbable comeback by launching the third pitch from Louisville reliever Clay Hensley over the left field wall to give the Tribe the 5-4 walk-off win.
The longball for Sanchez was his second on the season and also his second game-winning shot, as the Tribe catcher launched the eventual-deciding three-run shot in the Indians’ 4-2 victory over Toledo on April 16. Sanchez’s longball was also the Indians second walk-off hit of the season, joining the 10-inning victory over Toledo on April 9.
Before Indianapolis mounted their final-frames comeback, Louisville took the lead with four scores in the sixth and seventh. The Bats rally came after a fantastic start from Tribe starter Kyle Waldrop (6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO), who, after tossing 6.2 scoreless innings in his first start on April 17 in Toledo, continued right where he left off. The right hander struck out eight over 5.2 perfect frames, while setting the Tribe’s season best scoreless innings streak with 15.2 straight scoreless frames over his first three outings in a Tribe uniform.
Ironically, it would be Bats starting pitcher Greg Reynolds that would break up Waldrop’s attempt at perfection with a two-base hit in the top of the sixth. Immediately after Reynolds broke up the perfecto, top prospect Billy Hamilton ended the shutout when he ripped a triple to right field that plated Reynolds and gave the Bats a 1-0 lead.
After getting on the board in the sixth, Louisville then blew it open with three more scores in the top of the seventh. LF Felix Perez began the seventh-inning scoring rally with a lead-off walk, before stealing second and moving up third on a soft single to center by 1B Mike Hessman. 3B Neftali Soto followed Hessman’s hit with a base knock to right that plated Perez, before a single by RF Denis Phipps and sacrifice fly by C Konrad Schmidt extended the Bats advantage to 4-0.
The final frame fireworks pinned the loss and blown save on Louisville reliever Clay Hensley (0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB), and made a winner out of Tribe reliever Ryan Reid (2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 SO), who tossed two scoreless frames to earn his team-leading third win.
Major League rehabbing reliever Sean Marshall struck out two in a scoreless first inning with the Bats, while scheduled starter Greg Reynolds (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO) saw a victory slip away despite 6.1 strong innings on Monday night.
After sweeping the short two-game series from Louisville the Indians will now welcome their first non-West Division opponent to Victory Field when the Lehigh Valley IronPigs come to Indianapolis for a four-game series staring on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. LHP Kris Johnson (1-1, 2.81) is expected to make the start for the Tribe, while the IronPigs are scheduled to counter with LHP Adam Morgan (1-0, 1.42).