Heineman homers, Finnegan cruises as Bats fall short

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Designated hitter Scott Heineman homered in his first at-bat and reached base three times and left-hander Brandon Finnegan cruised through his 2.2 innings of work, but the Louisville Bats (0-1) were ultimately undone early with a five-run first inning in a 6-3 loss to the Columbus Clippers (1-0) Tuesday night at Louisville Slugger Field.

The Bats returned to baseball for the first time in more than 600 days and welcomed a sold-out crowd for the occasion. However, the Clippers quickly matched Bats fans’ intensity by sending nine batters to the plate in the opening frame and capping the inning with a two-run blast from shortstop Gabriel Arias.

Heineman answered with a solo shot in the home half of the frame. He also drew a pair of walks to reach safely in three of four plate appearances on the night.

Finnegan then halted Columbus’ advance by retiring eight of his nine batters faced and striking out the side in the fifth.

Louisville threatened one inning later with the bases loaded and no outs, but Clippers reliever Anthony Gose induced a double play and tallied a strikeout to escape the jam.

Cincinnati Reds star outfielder Shogo Akiyama went hitless in four trips to the plate during his first rehab appearance with the team.

The Bats and Clippers continue their six-game series at Louisville Slugger Field Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Louisville righty Tony Santillan is expected to toe the slab against Columbus right-hander Jean Carlos Mejia.