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Stripers Drop Playoff Series Opener 5-4 Despite Austin Riley Home Run

The Stripers and Clippers traded early runs in the Governor’s Cup Semifinal Game, but the Clippers came out on top as Gwinnett failed to get the big hit late.

Miami Marlins v. Atlanta Braves Photo by Logan Riely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Tucker Davidson got the nod on the bump in the first game of the Gwinnett Stripers first round series with Columbus, and his rocky early performance put them in a big hole. Davidson could not find command of his fastball early on and the first two men of the game reached base. Baserunning blunders got Davidson two quick outs as they managed to get the lead runner after a couple of run downs following a fly out to Adam Duvall, but he just could not escape the inning. Consecutive hits by Mark Mathias and Bobby Bradley followed to score two runs, and Davidson walked his second batter of the inning to put himself in more trouble. Bradley then creeped a few steps too far off of second base on a 2-1 pitch and catcher John Ryan Murphy caught him on a pickoff back to second base, but Jack Lopez made an errant throw into the back of Bradley as he headed to third base and it trickled away allowing him to score the third run of the inning. Davidson finally brought the inning to a close with a strikeout and turned it over to the league’s best offensive attack.

Gwinnett had their sights set early, and after a walk to Andres Blanco they brought up the big bats in the middle of the order. Austin Riley lifted a 1-0 pitch into right field and the seemingly harmless fly managed to carry just over the glove of the leaping right fielder and squeaked into the stands for a two run home run.

The next batter up was Adam Duvall and he crushed one dead center on a 2-2 pitch to completely erase the Clippers lead and tie the game up at 3-3.

An error and a Sean Kazmar single had the Striper in position to add more runs with still only one down in the inning, but Jack Lopez grounded into an inning ending double play to send Tucker Davidson back out following his 32 pitch first inning. Tucker responded with a 1-2-3 inning and looked greatly improved, but he would not hold that form for long.

Drew Waters got the start and batted eighth for Gwinnett tonight while Cristian Pache sat despite his hot streak of play and Waters put a good lick on a ball leading off the second inning but hit it right into the shift for the first out.

After the Stripers failed to score in the second it turned back to Davidson once again taking on the top of the order, and once again the first two batters of the inning reached to put Davidson in the stretch. After forcing a lineout for the first out Davidson allowed another hit to Bobby Bradley and a base hit to old friend Ryan Lavarnway to score two runs and put the Clippers back on top. Two fly outs ended the inning, but Davidson’s inability to get the top of the order out led to a swift exit in the game. He got two more outs in the top of the fourth but allowed two more hits and departed his start with a final line of 3 23 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

In the fourth Drew Waters got behind 0-1 in that his second at bat of the day, but got a fastball up and was able to drive a line drive the opposite way for his only hit of the game. Strikeouts retired the side and left the game at 5-3 as the offenses for both teams went into a slumber after their early outbursts. Ben Rowen pitched 2 13 innings in relief for the Stripers and kept the Clippers at five runs through the sixth inning, giving them a chance to make a comeback. Austin Riley hit a rocket into left field in his third at bat during the fifth inning, but the left fielder for the Clippers was able to come in and scoop the ball on a slide to rob Riley of his second hit of the game.

The bottom of the sixth inning came around the Stripers needed a breath of life, and that came in the form of Sean Kazmar reaching on an error as the Clippers first baseman couldn’t handle a throw from across the diamond. Jack Lopez followed this by knocking a single on the first pitch to put runners on the corners for Drew Waters. Waters struck out on three pitches for the second out, but JR Murphy had his back and was able to sneak a ball through the shift on the left side for a run scoring single. The Stripers had a chance with the top of the order up to make more out of it and get a tie, but leadoff man Ryan LaMarre put a ground ball right at the second baseman to close off the scoring chance.

Philip Pfeifer came in and continued his rise with a couple of scoreless innings of relief. Pfeifer allowed a base hit in the eighth inning but forced three ground balls over his two innings and limited hard contact. The Stripers also put up no offensive show in those two innings, turning the ball finally into the ninth. Grant Dayton was shaky on the mound in the ninth inning and allowed a couple of hits, but he managed to work through the heart of the Clippers lineup to give Gwinnett three more outs to make something happen. Drew Waters was not the man to do it, as he struck out to lead off the inning, but JR Murphy was there again and reached base for the third time this one his second walk of the night. Cristian Pache came in to pinch run, but his legs were of no use as Ryan LaMarre and Andres Blanco each went down on strikes to close the game and allow Columbus to swing a home game away in this best of five series.

Austin Riley finished the game 1-4 with a home run and Drew Waters finished 1-4 as well. You can find the rest of the box score as well as pitch tracking here, and if you have MiLB tv and wish to watch an archive of the game you can find that at this link. The Stripers will be right back at it tonight at 7:05 PM ET, with a starter still to be determined. Typically Ian Anderson follows Davidson in the rotation, so either he or Kyle Wright-who would be working on full rest, would be an option for tonight’s game.

The Clippers will be running out left handed pitcher Logan Allen. Allen pitched nine games with two teams in the Major Leagues this season and had a 6.18 ERA. In Triple-A, he has 18 starts and a 5.85 ERA. Since joining the Clippers and the Reds organization following the Trevor Bauer trade he has struggled in the international league with a 7.66 ERA over his five starts. Ian Anderson had a 6.57 ERA over five starts following his promotion to Gwinnett and struggled with his command walking 18 batters in 24 23 innings. Kyle Wright was altogether underwhelming this season, but he finished his season hot with a 2.75 ERA over his past six starts. In that time, he pitched 36 innings, struck out 43, and walked eleven batters while allowing only two home runs. His last start was a beauty, as he scattered two runs across seven innings while striking out nine batters.

Tomorrow’s game will also be streaming on

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