Going into Friday’s game against the Gwinnett Braves, the Louisville Bats had scored a total of 23 runs in nine July games. They broke out of that slump in a big way, breaking a franchise record for runs in a game as they pounded the Braves 22-1. 8,014 were in attendance to see fireworks both before and the game.
The Bats’ offensive explosion was highlighted by a pair of grand slams, one coming from Denis Phipps who finished with a career-high five hits.
“He got his hits but you could really sense some aggressiveness at the plate,” Bell said. “I think that comes with the confidence. Hopefully this carries over.”
Louisville’s offense began their explosion right out the gates. Phipps and Didi Gregorius got the Bats started in the first inning with back to back singles. After the runners advanced on a passed ball, Henry Rodriguez singled in Phipps to make it 1-0. The next batter, Neftali Soto, cranked a three-run home run to left to make it 4-0.
The Bats weren’t done. Dioner Navarro singled following the home run to make it five straight hits. Three batters later, Cody Puckett lifted a two-run home run to center making it 6-0, capping the scoring in the first. It was the third time this season the Bats have scored six runs in an inning.
Louisville one-upped themselves in the second. Rodriguez singled, Soto walked, and Navarro singled to load the bases with nobody out. After a passed ball scored Rodriguez to make it 7-0, Xavier Paul walked to once again load bases. Paul Janish walked in a run and Puckett singled home Navarro to make it 9-0.
Two batters later, in stepped Phipps who blasted a grand slam to the concrete beyond the left field stands to make it 13-0. The seven runs in the second were a season high.
The Braves lone run came on an RBI groundout from Ernesto Mejia in the fourth. The Bats got the run right back in the fifth on an RBI single from Paul Janish to make it 14-1.
Still, the Bats weren’t finished. A two-run double from Soto in the sixth made it 16-1 and an RBI single from Rodriguez in the seventh made it 17-1.
The Bats completed their record breaking night in the eighth inning against Tyler Tiffee, who is an infielder. After Navarro walked to lead off the inning, Paul singled and Janish walked to load the bases. Puckett singled in Navarro to make it 18-1. The next batter, Chris Valaika, lifted a grand slam to left to make it 22-1. It was the first time the Bats have hit two grand slams in one game since August 9, 2007.
The 22 runs broke the franchise record of 21, set September 1, 2003 while the Bats fell one hit short of the franchise record in hits (24). Every Bats position player had a hit, seven of them had a least two hits, five of them had at least three.
“The signs were there for a big game like this,” Bats manager David Bell said. “Every now and then you get a game like this and the confidence level goes up. Hopefully we can carry this forward.”
Phipps, who has struggled all season long, was moved to leadoff by Bell and it has helped.
“It’s good to me,” Phipps said. “I’m thankful to be in (the leadoff) situation. It helped me a lot last year and it’s helped me this year.”
The Bats look to keep it going Saturday in game three of their four game series with the G-Braves. Chad Reineke (3-6, 4.36 ERA) will take the bump for the Bats opposed by Atlanta’s top pitching prospect Julio Teheran (6-5, 4.92). First pitch Saturday is set for 6:05 p.m.