ALLENTOWN – All it takes is one mistake to turn the tide of a game and change the outcome.
IronPig starter Brian Mazone was cruising along when he made his one mistake. Columbus outfielder Kevin Mench made him pay as his three-run homer in the top of the sixth proved the be the difference in beating the IronPigs 3-1 on Sunday at Coca-Cola Park.
With one-out in the sixth, Mazone gave up singles to Roger Bernadine and former Phillie Eric Bruntlett. His first pitch to Mench was an inside strike. The IronPig lefty's mistake came in trying to duplicate that pitch.
"Hoover called the right pitch," Mazone said. "I was just trying to beat him inside. I just didn't get inside enough."
With the pitch out over the plate, Mench turned on it and powered the pitch just inside the left field foul pole to set the final score.
Clipper starter Luis Atilano was just as tough on hitters as Mazone. The lone run he allowed came in the bottom of the fifth. Catcher Paul Hoover led off with a single. One batter later, Mazone sacrificed him to second. Former Pirate prospect Chris Duffy (2-for-3) singled in Hoover to give the IronPigs a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Duffy's start with the IronPigs has been most promising. He got a hit in each of the first seven games and nine of the first ten. The lead-off hitter is now batting .318 and has driven in 11 runs on the year.
"He's done a good job. He knows how to get the run home and he can [hit the ball to the opposite field]." Huppert said. "That is what makes him a tough hitter."
Winning pitcher Atilano handcuffed IronPig hitters all afternoon.
"I think everyone just battled and it was just one of those days where we couldn't get clutch hits," IronPig outfielder Jon Mayberry said.
"You've got to give credit to [Atilano], he pitched a great game. He was able to make his pitches to keep us off balance."
The IronPigs had an ideal opportunity erased in the eighth inning. The speedy centerfielder Duffy led off with a walk. Melvin Dorta tried to bunt for a base hit, but the ball came off the bat high and caught by Clipper reliever Josh Wilkie who doubled off Duffy at first to kill the inning.
"He was bunting on his own for a base hit," Huppert said. "We just didn't get the big hit to break it open."
The Pigs were able to break it open Saturday with an 8-1win in the opener of the series with Drew Carpenter getting the win.
"It's just the nature of the game, one day you have it, the next day nothing seems to fall for you," Mayberry said. "Tomorrow we'll work on getting timely hits and playing a complete ball game."
In taking the loss, Mazone had his second straight outing in which he was just a few pitches off.
"Mazone pitched a great and made that one errant pitch and they were able to capitalize," Mayberry said.
"A couple of more inches inside and the results are probably different," Mazone said. "Those couple of inches are killing me."