On a bright and sunny day in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Columbus Clippers took the the field against the Norfolk Tides in the opening game of their series. For the eighth time this season, the new Huntington Park was sold out. The Clippers, who were sailing with a three-game winning streak wanted to float gently on the swells. The Tides, who had no streak whatsoever, were looking to sink Columbus and start a modest winning streak.
As only one team could prevail, the Tides made sure to close the deal and took the lead early. Though both the Clippers and Tides scored in the second inning, in the third the Tides quickly put the game in their back pocket. It all started when Melvin Dorta knocked down a grounder and landed up at first. Justin Christian followed it up with a double. Then Jeff Fiorentino stepped up the the plate, hit a high single to center, which sent home Dorta and Christian.
As if the two runs were not bad enough, the Tides continued to put pressure on during the third. With Fiorentino still on first, Jolbert Cabrera hit a double, advancing the runner to third. Justing Turner stepped up and, just like Fiorentino before him, nailed the ball (this time a double) and sent in the two runners. Columbus was able to stop the hemorrhaging after this.
The Tides then continued to put pressure on the Clippers, as they scored three more times in the fourth and once more in the sixth. It was so bad that it seemed as though the ball was allergic to Columbus’ bats. It was not until the seventh that Columbus was able to score again, but that was with some help; Norfolk’s new pitcher, Fredy Deza, walked the bases loaded and then walked in a run. Columbus, it seemed, could do nothing right.
The last two innings of the game were more or less unmemorable, as Norfolk continued to dominate and Columbus just couldn’t pull it together. Norfolk scored four more times in the eighth while Columbus committed two more errors. This was the last of the scoring by either team for the game. It was also the last real action, as the ninth inning was a mop up.
Even though the game was pretty much one sided, the fans had plenty to cheer about. During every other inning a “bat boy” would appear on top of one of the dugouts and dance to music. Man, was this kid good. He could do the robot, break dance, and even did a compilation of Michael Jackson moves. Seriously, this guy actually put MJ to shame.
Not only was there the dancer, but there were also several balls shot into the crowd and amazing saves on the field to appease the fans. About once an inning a ball would nail a person on the arm, in the head, or even once in the face. While this is not something to cheer about, it fired up the crowd and was interesting to watch. On the actual field, however, there were even more cool things happening. Diving catches by Justin Christian and Joey Gathright got attention. But what got the most attention, and the loudest applause, was a catch by Clipper Matt LaPorta as he fell into the dugout.
The ball itself seemed to be more interesting to the crowd then the actual ballgame.
W: David Pauley (4-4), 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
L: Kenny Ray (0-1), 4 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
S: Fredy Deza (1): 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO