More often than not, the Fourth of July means the state of Ohio’s two Triple-A teams playing each other. The Columbus Clippers have faced the Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers) seven of the ten Independence Days since affiliating with the Cleveland Indians in 2010. On most of those occasions, the fireworks have started early in the form of high-scoring games, Let’s take a look back at the past decade of this series.
The first July 4 Battle of Ohio with the Clippers as a Tribe farm team was a one-sided affair as the Clippers won 6-0 based largely on the strength of a four-run top of the fifth highlighted by back-to-back-to-back RBI singles by SS Brian Bixler, CF Jose Constanza, and 2B Cord Phelps (Phelps’ hit drove in a pair). A solo shot by DH Jared Goedert (his eleventh of the season) capped the scoring in the eighth. Starter David Huff and relievers Jess Todd, Josh Judy, and Justin Germano combined for the sutout.
After facing the Bats in 2011, the Clippers found themselves back in Toledo for the Fourth again in 2012. While they didn’t shut the Mud Hens out this time, it was an even bigger blowout than 2010. The Clippers’13-3 victory included multi-RBI games from four players, including 2B Ryan Rohlinger, who drove in four, and 3B Russ Canzler with three ribs from the proverbial Independence day barbecue.
This year’s game was a mirror image of the 2010 contest with the Columbus Nine on the losing end of a 7-0 defeat. CF and leadoff hitter Ezequiel Carrera’s two hits made him the only Clipper to reach base twice for the Clippers on this forgettable Fourth for the top of the Tribe system.
The Battle of Ohio happened on Independence Day in Columbus for the first time in the decade in 2014. The Clippers won 5-3 behind a four-run first. In fact, seven of the nine runs scored in this game came in an innings worth of baseball between the bottom of the first and the Mud Hens’ three-run top of the second. C Roberto Perez had the most notable offensive performance of the night, driving in three of the Columbus runs.
The Clippers found themselves again at the Corner of Neil and Naionwide one year later. This time they scored six runs, including three driven in by 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and two by 2B Jose Ramirez, with Ramirez and DH Jerry Sands each scoring a pair. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Toledo side scored nine to take the win in a Star-Spangled slugfest.
In a relatively sedate affair for this series, the Clippers won 3-2 at Huntington Park. Starting LF Michael Choice’s solo homer was part of a two-run fifth that proved decisive. CF-LF Bryson Myles came within a homer of the cycle with the Clips’ only multi-hit performance of the day. Cole Sulser, Cameron Hill, and stark County Terriers alum Perci Garner each pitched roughly a third of the game in a stellar bullpen day effort.
Following a 2017 matchup with the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates), the Battle of Ohio returned to the July 4 spot on the Clippers schedule in 2018, the most recent tim the teams have played each other on the nation’s birthday (The Clippers hosted Louisville last season and were slated to face the Mud Hens in Columbus today). The Indians’ top affiliate won 5-4 with a three-run first (RBI double by C Francisco Mejia followed by a two-run homer by CF Brandon Barnes in then next plate appearance) gave the Columbusites a solid start and a go-ahead two-out RBI double by Barnes in the bottom of the eighth sealed the victory.