By Sam Weismann (Martinez Clippers )
PITTSBURG, Calif. — The Clippers scored two in the ninth and three in the eleventh to get their first series victory of the season, in dramatic comeback fashion.
Devin Carter (2-3), up to bat with two out and one on in the ninth inning, shot his eighth home run of 2018 off the scoreboard at City Park to tie the series finale between the Diamonds and the Clippers at six-all; this capping a stellar five-plus innings from Matti Doxter out of the Martinez bullpen, and allowing the Clippers to rally for the win in extra innings for the second time this season.
“From the sixth inning, I knew we had the momentum; we had a bunch of zeros up on the board and we were still chipping away at that lead…Matti [Doxter] was cruising, we had an opportunity and we took advantage of it, and that’s how winning is done – really proud of this team.” –Devin Carter on his home run and the win
With this victory, the Clippers move to 6-26 on the season, and have won three of their last ten games (all against the Diamonds); they have now bested the Diamonds on three occasions, two more times than they’ve beaten any other Pacific Association competition. Chris Decker’s opinion on the Clipper’s recent run; “Really, it’s a matter of timing; we didn’t face Pittsburg the first three or four weeks of the season, we were a team in transition, but we’ve got our lineup pretty well set now. We’re a rapidly improving team, and they just happen to be the team we’re playing.”
Martinez jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, as has become the norm for the Clippers, after a Will Decker (3-5) solo blast (6) in the first inning and a 2-run single for Shaine Hughes (2-4) in the third. However, a four-run third for Pittsburg, capped by a three-run homer for Wes Wallace (7). Jacob Hill, who pitched to a no-decision for Martinez in just his second start, was yanked from the game after just two and one-third innings, as Matti Doxter would come into the game in relief.
Doxter would pitch through the seventh inning, going 5 1/3 while allowing just one earned run and striking out six; more importantly, his performance gave the Martinez bullpen a much-needed day of rest, working efficiently (and at one point retiring eight in a row). The score would remain 6-3 until the seventh, when another RBI base hit from Shaine Hughes would make it 6-4.
In the ninth, Nicholas Barnese (L, 1-2) came on to pitch for the Diamonds – it was he who hit Will Decker with a pitch to bring up Devin Carter with two down in the ninth. After Carter’s game-tying home run, Drue Bravo retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras, as his counterpart Barnese was charged with a blown save and his second home run allowed against Martinez in two outings.
In the international tiebreaker format, the last two batted outs took their places on first and second for each side in the 10th. A sacrifice bunt laid down by Chris Caffrey (0-0), an offensive substitute, was successful; but with the bottom of the Martinez lineup due up, Barnese was able to strike out Victor Grasso (1-5) and Luis Perez (0-4) to send the game to the Diamonds’ half of the tenth.
Phil Richmond (W, 2-1) came on to pitch the tenth for the Clippers, and with the winning run reaching third on a sacrifice fly, Richmond retired the side in order – just as he did at Napa in the Clippers’ other extra-inning affair this season, coming up aces in a huge situation for the Clippers.
Finally, in the eleventh, the Clippers were able to break the deadlock – a sacrifice fly by Matt Richards scored Chris Powell, a starting pitcher for Martinez who came in to pinch-run and was advanced to third by a Pedro Barrios (1-6) sacrifice bunt. Martinez would only add on from there, getting a Decker RBI single and a line shot off the bat of Nathan Etheridge (0-6) that was overrun by Patrick O’Donnell to make the score 9-6.
In the bottom of the 11th, Phil Richmond would put the Diamonds away for good, retiring the side in order and striking out Wes Wallace, who had homered earlier in the game, and who represented the tying run at the plate with two out, to clinch the Clippers’ second extra-inning victory on the road this year.
The Clippers continue this three-game road trip with a two-game set at Sonoma this weekend, before heading home for four games next week. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Arnold Field, with RHP Chris Powell (0-1, 6.08 ERA) projected to start for Martinez.
Tickets for all Clippers home games are available at mtzclippers.com.