The heroes were many as the Columbus Clippers routed the Durham Bulls, 13-2, to win the Triple-A International League championship. Columbus took the best-of-five series in four games, unleashing a 20-hit barrage in the Bulls' home park in the final game. It is the eighth time the Clippers have won the Governors Cup, first since 1996 when Columbus was affiliated with the New York Yankees.
It is the third International League title won by a Cleveland Indians farm team. Buffalo won in 1998 and 2004 as a Tribe affiliate.
The Clippers will play in a one-game Triple-A Championship contest on Tuesday, Sept. 21 in Oklahoma City against the winner of the Pacific Coast League title series between Memphis and Tacoma.
Jason Kipnis, promoted from Double-A Akron earlier in the week, hit for the cycle, Jerad Head also had four hits, and Josh Rodriguez had four RBI to lead the Clippers' offense. Columbus took a 4-0 lead after two innings and was ahead 5-2 after four before putting it away against the Bulls' bullpen.
Columbus starter Paolo Espino gave up nine hits and two runs over six innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out five. Left-hander Aaron Laffey gave up one hit in a scoreless seventh and right-handers Zach Putnam and Vinnie Pestano each worked one perfect inning.
Head went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and scored four times. He is hitting .448 in the postseason. Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with four RBI. Those two are among several Clippers players and manager Mike Sarbaugh who were part of Akron's run to the 2009 Double-A Eastern League championship.
Kipnis, a second-year pro who opened this season at Class A Kinston, went 4-for-6 with three runs and two RBI as the designated hitter. He homered leading off the second inning, singled in the third, doubled in the fifth and tripled in the sixth. He struck out to end the seventh and grounded into a forceout in the ninth.
Kipnis began his pro career as an outfielder last year after being Cleveland's second-round draft pick, out of Arizona State. He was switched to second base this year and the move didn't affect his offense a bit. In 133 games combined between Kinston and Akron, he hit .307 with 16 homers, 32 doubles, eight triples, 96 runs and 74 RBI. He was moved up to Columbus on Tuesday when Drew Sutton was called to Cleveland.
The only Columbus starter without a hit was centerfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who went 0-for-4 with a walk and stolen base.
Second baseman Cord Phelps went 3-for-6 with a double, run and two RBI; third baseman Jared Goedert was 3-for-6 with a double, three runs and one RBI.
The Clippers have been on an incredible roll in the playoffs. They ousted the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in four games before defeating Durham.
In their first playoff game, the Clippers got 12 hits in a 6-4 victory at home on Sept. 8. Luke Carlin crashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to win it.
The next night, they came back from a 4-0 deficit to force extra innings but lost 5-4. Then they went on the road and took two straight.
Yohan Pino, Putnam and Pestano combined to pitch a one-hitter for a 1-0 win Sept. 10. Then Rodriguez homered, Espino won, and the Clippers totaled 16 hits in an 11-5 triumph the next day to advance to the finals.
The Clippers opened the championship series as they closed it -- by getting 20 hits. That was in an 18-5 win at home when Head, Hodges, Goedert and Carlin all hit homers to support winning pitcher David Huff.
Head, Goedert and Phelps all hit solo homers and Zach McAllister came up with a superb start for a 4-0 win the next night in the final game played this year at Huntington Park.
Columbus rallied from a 2-0 deficit in Game 3 at Durham, tying it as Hodges hit a solo homer and RBI single. Durham won it in the bottom of the ninth, 3-2, on a sacrifice fly.