Wednesday night’s rain held off long enough for the Columbus Clippers to defeat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 4-1, and tie the Governor’s Cup Championship series.
Columbus pitcher Mitch Talbot (1-0) allowed just one run in a complete-game win and the Clippers’ offense finally got to the IronPigs’ bullpen during a four-run eighth inning as they leveled the best-of-five series at 1-1.
Lehigh Valley took a 1-0 lead when first baseman Tagg Bozied belted Talbot’s first pitch of the fifth inning beyond the center field wall and out of the park for a solo home run.
Columbus infielder Beau Mills said the team wasn’t worried by the IronPigs’ advantage.
“I think until the last out is made we all know we have a chance,” Mills said. “We have a great lineup and (Talbot) was pitching a really well. I don’t think any body ever though we were out of it.”
Mills’ optimism was not unfounded.
After being held scoreless for seven innings, Columbus shorts stop Juan Diaz started the bottom of the eighth with a single to center field. Second baseman Argenis Reyes doubled to right field two batters later.
After Lehigh Valley inserted pitcher Mike Zagurski into the game and intentionally walked left-handed batter Jerad Head, left fielder Travis Buck tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
Later in the at-bat, Reyes headed for home after a Zagurski wild pitch and scored to give Columbus its first lead of the series at 2-1.
Then Mills delivered a two-run single to center field to put the Clippers up, 4-1.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything too much, just have a good at bat,” Mills said. “If he threw a pitch there for me to hit, I was swinging.”
Though Zagurski did not factor into the decision — Bump was responsible for the runs scored by Diaz and Reyes — he threw 26 pitches in .2 innings of work and only half were strikes. He was also charged with two runs, four hits and a walk.
Talbot put the finishing touches on his complete-game win by retiring nine consecutive Lehigh Valley batters over the final three innings. Talbot allowed only seven hits while recording six strikeouts in the game.
With the series shifting to Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park, Goedert said he expects the series to remain competitive.
“It’s going to be a battle,” he said. “It’s going to be close games. They’ve got good pitching, we’ve got good pitching. We’ve got good hitters, they’ve got good hitters. We’re pretty evenly matched teams. Every little thing is going to matter.”
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh, who was presented with the 2011 International League Manager of the Year award, said he is focused on taking things “one game at a time.”
“It sounds cliche, but it’s what you’ve got to do,” Sarbaugh said. “And it works.”
First pitch of Thursday’s Game 3 at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., is set for 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 Pitching matchup
The Clippers’ right-handed starting pitcher Joe Martinez will be opposed by the Iron Pigs’ right-hander Dave Bush.