Courtesy: Louisville Bats media relations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bats pitcher Sean Gallagher was begging his offense for a run in his last start. There would be no plea Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
He got 22 of them. That's not a typo. The Bats had their highest scoring output in franchise history against the Gwinnett Braves in a 22-1 victory.
When Denis Phipps roped a grand slam with one out in the second inning, Louisville led 13-0 and shattered its previous season high in runs, which had been 11. Several other new season bests were set: hits (23), runs scored in an inning (seven, in the second), run differential (21), grand slams (two), individual hits (five, Phipps) and individual RBI (five, by Neftali Soto).
The Bats' previous franchise best for runs scored was 21, which the team did in 2003 against Columbus. They hadn't clubbed two grand slams in a game since 2007; Paul Janish, a current member, hit one of them.
The ambush saw Louisville (34-60) bat around in both the first two innings, with 22 hitters coming to the plate before Gwinnett (44-50) could record six outs. The Braves had an especially difficult time getting out number one, as the first five Bats reached base in the first and the first six got on in the second.
In his last start, Gallagher shut out Toledo over six innings but took a no-decision after getting no run support. If anything, Gallagher might have suggested mercy from his slugging teammates so his arm wouldn't stiffen up from such an extended period of dormancy. Penance by the offense allowed Gallagher (7-6) to cruise to the victory after giving up one earned run on five hits over six innings.
Phipps, the leadoff man, collected three hits by the second inning after not having more than two in any contest this season. He singled twice in the first and, with the bases loaded in the second, found the seats in left field with a line drive. It was his sixth homer of the year and the team's second grand slam - Neftali Soto hit one May 20 against Lehigh Valley.
Phipps didn't stop at three hits. The centerfielder added his fourth in the fourth with a single past Gwinnett third baseman Lance Zawakzki. His fifth at-bat was no less impressive, resulting in a 13-pitch walk. His seventh at-bat ended with a single to left. Phipps finished 5-for-6, becoming the first Bats player to record a five-hit game this season. He also had four RBI and three runs scored.
When Janish punched an RBI single to right field in the fifth, every Louisville position player had tallied a hit. Xavier Paul gave the Bats a season-best 17 hits with a single in the sixth, and they would finish with an astonishing 23.
Things got so bad for Gwinnett that the Braves used a position player - Terry Tiffee - to pitch the eighth inning. Chris Valaika, who recently came off the disabled list, capped a five-run frame in memorable fashion by launching a grand slam for his fourth homer of the year.
As for Soto, he followed consecutive singles by Phipps, Didi Gregorius and Henry Rodriguez in the first by slamming a three-run homer to left for his team-leading 10th round-tripper. Cody Puckett followed four batters later by launching a two-run shot to center field for his third homer of the year.
Gregorius and Rodriguez, both recently called up from Double-A Pensacola, continued to enliven the Bats' offense. Each rapped a hit in their first two plate appearances, with Rodriguez notching an RBI single and Gregorius swatting a double for two multi-hit games in his two Bats outings. Rodriguez had a diving stop and also barehanded a bouncer to clip the speedy Luis Durango at first. Gregorius and Rodriguez finished with three hits apiece.
In addition to his five RBI, Soto had three runs scored and two hits - a homer and a double. Puckett went 3-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored, Paul went 3-for-5 and Dioner Navarro went 2-for-5 with three runs scored.
While Gallagher picked up his eighth quality start, Yohan Flande certainly did not. Gwinnett's left-handed starter lasted a mere 2/3 of an inning, surrendering six earned runs on seven hits. He had pitched at least three innings in every other start. Flande threw 51 pitches in the first inning.
The Braves did have a bright note. Jose Costanza extended his Gwinnett franchise-best hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the third. Tyler Pastornicky went 3-for-4.
The third game of the four-game series will be played at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Louisville Slugger Field. Gwinnett's Julio Teheran (6-5, 4.92 ERA) and Louisville's Chad Reineke (3-6, 4.36) are expected to start on the mound.