Drew Locke hit a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Columbus Catfish a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Rome Braves tonight.
Rome jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kala Kaaihue doubled in Maximiliano Ramirez with two out. Rome pitcher Tyler Bullock allowed only a lead-off single in the first, and other than scattering four walks, kept the Catfish at bay. Rome reliever Rudy Quinonez allowed two runners aboard in the eighth and was in line to pick up his fourth save before Catfish 1B Jason Mooneyham walked to lead the ninth, followed by Locke's shot over the left field wall to give the Catfish the win instead.
A bit of confusion ensued, with Locke not sure the ball went over the wall. Golden Park, the Catfish home field, has advertisements posted above the left field wall, but they are out of play. Hitting the ads on the fly is a home run. As soon as the ball hit the "Win for Life" sign and bounced back onto the field, I looked to the field umpire, who immediately signaled "home run." Locke pulled up at second and Mooneyham held at third as Rome CF Jordan Schafer recoved the ball and threw it back to the infield. Catfish skipper Travis Barbary signaled to the runners that the ball was out and Mooneyham and Locke trotted home to meet the Catfish dugout, which had emptied on the field umpire's signal.
The Rome coaching staff protested the call to no avail, and were still arguing the call when the Catfish and the umpires trotted off the field. However, both Columbus TV sports crews were at the game and watched the home run through their cameras. Both confirmed the ball was indeed out.
Catfish reliever Jonathan Meloan pitched a perfect top of the ninth, and picked up the win when Locke hit his game-winning shot.
The win pulls the Catfish to within 6 games of Rome with nine games left in the first half. Game two of the short, three-game series is Saturday night. The "Zooperstars" comedy troupe will be at the game entertaining the fans. I saw them last year, and they were fun to watch.