The Columbus Clippers are now champions of all Triple-A baseball. The International League champs trounced Tacoma, 12-6, in a one-game playoff in Oklahoma City against the Pacific Coast League winners. The offensive outburst was nothing new for the Clippers, who outscored opponents 71-30 in nine postseason games. Columbus got 19 hits after twice rapping out 20 to defeat Durham for the IL title.
Every batter in manager Mike Sarbaugh's lineup except cleanup hitter Wes Hodges had at least two hits. Jerad Head led the way with three hits and four RBI and won the MVP award. Overall in the postseason, Head hit .485 with 15 RBI.
Jason Kipnis, who joined the Clippers during the IL finals, fell a single short of hitting for the cycle in consecutive games. His cycle had helped Columbus drub Durham 13-2 to clinch the IL title in four games. Kipnis, the Cleveland Indians' second-round draft choice in 2009, went 3-for-4 and scored three runs. In five playoff games overall, he hit .455 (10-for-22) with nine runs.
"What a week, what a week," Kipnis told reporters. "I couldn't be happier about how the week's gone for me and the team. They have been just unbelievable in taking me in and making me feel comfortable right away."
Kipnis opened the year at Class A Kinston, was promoted to Double-A Akron and obviously did well in his Triple-A debut. Moved to second base this year from the outfield, he likely will get a long look during spring training by Indians manager Manny Acta.
The Clippers fell out of first place in the final weeks of the regular season, going 13-24 to finish second. They caught fire in the playoffs, however, beating favored Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, three games to one, defeating Durham by the same count and then taking Tacoma. The Rainiers also had stumbled down the stretch and were forced out of their home ballpark by construction. Nevertheless, they won eight of their final 13 games -- all on the road, including a three-game sweep in Memphis for the PCL title.
David Huff earned the win over Tacoma. The left-hander, sent down to the Clippers in August by the Indians, allowed six runs over six innings. He struck out six and gave up seven hits and two walks. Zach Putnam, Josh Judy and Vinnie Pestano each worked one scoreless inning of relief.
Kipnis homered to lead off the second inning and start Columbus' scoring. Jared Goedert and Head followed with consecutive doubles to make it 2-0 and Josh Rodriguez's one-out single scored Head.
Tacoma tied it with a three-run third, but the Clippers took a 7-3 lead in the fourth, again sparked by Kipnis. He hit a leadoff double and scored on a one-out single by Head. Luke Carlin doubled Head to third, where he scored on a wild pitch by former Midview (Lorain County, Ohio) High School star Ryan Feierabend. Jose Constanza beat out a bunt for an RBI single, scoring Carlin from third.
Former big-leaguer Ian Snell replaced Feierabend and Constanza stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Juan Yepez. Ezequiel Carrera singled home Constanza.
Columbus put it away with a five-run fifth.
Kipnis drew a one-out walk and went to third on a single by Goedert. Head doubled them both home for a 9-3 lead.
Head was out trying for a triple, but Carlin kept the rally going with a single, going to third on a single by Rodriguez. After another pitching change, Carlin scored on a wild pitch, Constanza walked and Carrera doubled both runners home to make it 12-3.