The same ole song was being sung by the Louisville Bats Sunday afternoon against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Bats had gone in order four of the first five innings and twelve straight had been retired with one out in the sixth and they were trailing 1-0. Another loss being served right up. Neftali Soto was sick of it.
After pitcher Pedro Villarreal singled with one out in the sixth, Kristopher Negron walked. After Willie Harris grounded out, the Iron Pigs decided to intentionally walk Bill Rhinehart to face Soto. On the second pitch he saw, Soto sent a towering shot into the left field bullpen to jumpstart the Bats into a 4-1 lead. The Bats added another run in the inning when Danny Dorn and Chris Valaika followed Soto’s slam with back-to-back doubles.
After single spots by the Iron Pigs in the seventh and eighth made it 5-3, the Bats seemed to be growing weary once again, as if doubting they would win the contest. Willie Harris ended all in ninth with a two RBI double to make it 7-3, the final margin.
The Bats got another stellar start from Triple-A rookie Pedro Villarreal, who was making his third start of the season for the Bats. Villarreal went 6-2/3 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out five. Villarreal has thrown a quality start in all three outings for the Bats this season.
Nick Christiani, who came in to get the final out of the seventh, was lifted after walking the first batter he faced in the eighth. Travis Webb came in and walked a batter of his own before retiring two straight. Then manager David Bell turned to closer Jordan Smith. Smith also walked a batter but got Kevin Frandsen to fly out to end the Iron Pigs’ threat.
Smith pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his third save of the season.
Louisville improved their record to 15-30 as they won consecutive games for the first time in May. The Bats have yet to have a winning streak longer than two games all season. The Bats need to win one of the next two games against the Iron Pigs to earn just their second series victory. They’re already notched at least a tie of the series.
Game three of the four game set is Monday. The Bats are set to send Chad Reineke (1-3, 4.12 ERA) to the hill against the Iron Pigs’ Scott Elarton (5-1, 2.06 ERA). Reineke has lost in three of his previous four starts after picking up his only win of the season April 23. First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Photo Credit: Max Sharp