Didi Gregorius’ walk off home run in the ninth inning capped a huge comeback for the Louisville Bats and gave them a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Bisons Wednesday night. The Bats scored five unanswered in the final two innings to pick up their second straight victory over Buffalo. A crowd of 7,543 braved the heat to see the Bats’ third walk off win of the season.
It was Gregorius’ fourth home run in 14 games since joining the Bats. He had just one in 81 games with Pensacola.
“Didi has such a level swing and good bat speed,” Bats manager David Bell said. “When he just tries to hit the ball hard, the ball can go very far.”
“I just try to put a good swing on the ball,” Gregorius said. “They say you have to have power to hit home runs. For me, it I make a good swing and a pitcher throws hard, the ball can go.”
Gregorius started the rally in the eighth. With one out and the Bats trailing 4-0, Gregorius and Henry Rodriguez each singled. Mike Costanzo then walked to load the bases. After back-to-back run-scoring singles from Dioner Navarro and Felix Perez made it 4-2, Willie Harris struck out for the second out of the inning. Cody Puckett then stepped in and delivered a big two out, two run single to left to knot it up 4-4, setting the stage for Gregorius’ walk-off heroics.
“We never game up,” Gregorius said. “We kept battling and some hits started falling.”
The Bats fell behind the eight ball early after Buffalo reached Bats starter Brett Tomko for three in the first. After getting two quick outs to start the game, Tomko walked Mike Baxter, gave up a double to Zach Lutz, and then walked Adam Loewen to load the bases. The next batter, Josh Satin, ripped a base clearing double to right-center to give the Bisons an early 3-0 lead.
While Buffalo (51-54) didn’t score again against Tomko, they managed three more baserunners over the next two innings while forcing him to throw 82 pitches. Tomko, who was coming off the disabled list and starting for the first time since May 30, was pulled from the game.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Bell said. “If not for it being his first time back in two months, he probably would’ve made it through five innings.”
The Bats’ bullpen picked up the slack for Tomko. Kanekoa Texiera, Travis Webb, Carlos Fisher, and JJ Hoover (4-0) combined to pitch the final six innings giving up just one run on three hits and striking out eleven.
“The emphasis for us the rest of the season is to find a way to play well,” Bell said. “Tonight, several guys had really good at bats and we got good pitching to put us in a position to win the game.”
The Bats (40-66) improved to 22-31 at home and won for just the sixteenth time (16-51) when their opponent scores first. They have 19 comeback wins this season.
The Bats look to make it three in a row against the Bisons Thursday night. Todd Redmond (7-6, 3.36 ERA) will make his second start for the Bats after a stellar debut July 21 (seven innings, five hits, no runs). Buffalo has not announced a starter. First pitch for Thursday’s game is set for 7:05. Fans can enjoy Budweiser Game Time Happy Hour on the Overlook Deck from 5:30-7:00.