Jeff Francis dominated on the mound and Mike Costanzo belted a two-run home run to lead the Louisville Bats to a 2-1 win Friday night over the Norfolk Tides. Francis, in the best start for Louisville pitchers of the year, went eight strong innings giving up just two hits and one run while walking three and striking out the nine. The final strikeout came against Xavier Avery to end the eighth, stranding the tying run at third.
Josh Judy came in to pitch the ninth and picked up his first save of the season, but it didn’t come without some sweat. Matt Antonelli led the inning off with a single and moved to second on Luis Exposito’s single that put the winning run on board. The next batter, Bill Hall, hit a slow dribbler that bounced over the mound and looked destined to send the tying run home; but Chris Valaika saved the day, picking the ball just behind second, stepping on the bag and firing to first for a game ending double play. It was the third double play the Bats turned in the game.
For just the second time in ten games, the Bats struck first on Costanzo’s two-run homer in the fourth. They didn’t manage much else against Norfolk starter Steve Johnson, who went seven innings giving up just four hits and the two runs on Costanzo’s home run. Johnson walked just one while striking out seven Bats hitters.
Costanzo had two of the Bats’ five hits in the game for his second consecutive multi-hit game. In nine games since being called up to the Bats, he is hitting .258 with two homers and six runs batted in. In 11 games with double-A Pensacola, Costanzo hit .333 with three homers and 13 RBI.
The Bats improved their season record to 8-14 while Norfolk fell to 7-13.
The teams play game two of the four game series Saturday. Louisville will send Sean Gallagher (0-2, 9.60 ERA) to the mound against Norfolk’s Brad Bergesen (0-1, 7.02 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15. It is the fourth of a 12-game road trip for the Bats in which they are 1-2 on through their first three games.