The Louisville Bats finished the 2011 season with 146 total home runs. The 2012 version of the Bats picked up right where they left off Thursday night, knocking four round-trippers, including two from Paul Janish, in a 5-4 win over the Columbus Clippers on Opening Night.
Janish’s second homer, which came with two outs in the top of the 9th, gave the Bats the lead for good in a game they controlled most of the way.
The Bats struck first with two runs in the top of the 2nd on a two-run home run from Danny Dorn, who led the team with 18 home runs last season. Chris Valaika then led off the top of the 3rd inning with a solo blast of his own, making it 3-0.
The Clippers battled back with two runs in the bottom of the 4th on Lonnie Chisenhall’s single and Ryan Spilborgh’s double. Spilborgh’s double would have scored two if not for a great relay throw to the plate by Janish gunning down Chisenhall and preserving the Bats’ one run lead.
Janish extended the Bats’ lead to 4-2 with a solo home run in the top of the 7th but the Clippers came back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on Ezequiel Carrera’s ground rule double.
Janish then hit his decisive, game winning home run in the 9th.
The Bats also benefited from great defensive play. Along with Janish’s relay throw in the in the 4th, the Bats turned three double plays in the game, including an inning-ending double play in the 1st in which outfielder Denis Phipps caught a fly ball and nailed Carrera, who was tagging up from third, at the plate.
Veteran Jeff Francis started for the Bats and went six innings giving up two runs on seven hits. Nick Christiani, who gave up the two runs in the 7th, picked up a blown save. Ron Mahay pitched a scoreless 8th inning and picked up the win. J.J. Hoover pitched a perfect 9th to pick up the save.
The Bats and Clippers hook up for the second of a four game series tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Brett Tomko is scheduled to take the bump for the Bats opposed by Kevin Slowey.
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