by Mike Potter
DBAP/DURHAM It’s Game 3 of the four-game series between the leaders of the International League’s South and West Divisions, and so far the competition has been very close.
It’s warm but not overly hot in downtown Durham as Virgil Vasquez (4-1) takes the hill for the Bulls against Justin Germano (2-2).
The game doesn’t last forever but it seems like it, with Columbus winning 8-6 in a 12-inning affair that lasts 4:21.
Columbus jumps on Vasquez for two in the first. Jose Constanza leads off with a single, followed by a one-out walk to Luis Valbuena before Jared Goedert’s RBI single up the middle. Jordan Brown then brings Valbuena home on a fielder’s-choice ball to second.
And the Clippers stretch it to 3-0 in the second, as Nick Weglarz blasts a 1-1 offering over the Diamond View seats in right.
The Bulls score one in the bottom of the frame when Dan Johnson leads off by rocketing a 2-1 offering into the Diamond View seats.
Columbus adds another in the third as Cord Phelps leads off with a single and scores on Goedert’s one-out double.
And it gets worse in the fifth. Constanza leads off with a bunt single down the third-base line, and then with one out Valbuena and Goedert draw back-to-back walks before Brown hits a two-run double to left.
Durham cuts it to 6-2 in the fifth. Fernando Perez leads off with a bunt single, advances on Desmond Jennings’ single to left and scores on Justin Ruggiano’s one-out grounder to short.
The Bulls finally put up a crooked number in the sixth against Carlton Smith. Chris Richard leads off with a double to left, followed by a walk to Dioner Navarro. Then with one out, Angel Chavez launches an 0-1 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in left to cut the margin to 6-5.
They tie it in the seventh off Bryce Stowell. With one out, he walks Ruggiano, Dan Johnson and Richard before Navarro gets the RBI with a fielder’s-choice ball to second.
And it stays there until the 12th with Winston Abreu on the hill for the Bulls. Valbuena leads off with a walk, and after Brown hits a one-out single to right Hodges hits a two-run double off the Blue Monster.
Columbus outhits the Bulls 13-9 as nine players have multiple-hit games. Josh Judy (2-0) is the winning pitcher.
Weglarz homers and singles to lead the Clippers while Brown finishes with a double and a single for three RBI. Chavez homers and singles to lead the Bulls.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “Virgil was not very good at all. But the thing about the game was how our team battled to tie it. Sometimes it sucks when you lose a game and lose bullpen guys for the next day, but I’m really proud of the way we battled back. They’ve got good pitching. Our bullpen has been very good. It’s our starters that need to get it going.”
Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh: “That was an interesting game. We got out early and then they battled back and tied it up. It was one of those back-and-forth games. Early on our bullpen struggled a little bit with command. But Josh really did a nice job. And Hodges got a big knock. It was a good win and a tough game."
Hodges: “I stunk all night and then was able to put a swing on a good pitch. It was nice to end the night on a good note.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls have a seven-game lead in the South Division while Columbus is 9½ up in the West.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Hodges’ double in the 12th.
Columbus leads 4-3.
Durham: Lost 1.
Columbus: Won 1.
Columbus at Bulls, Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
Josh Tomlin (R, 8-4, 2.66) vs. Heath Phillips (L, 7-6, 6.14)