(0-1) Mississippi Braves 4, (1-0) Jackson Generals 6
- Dustin Peterson, DH: 0-4, .282/.343/.431
- Connor Lien, RF: 1-4, 3B, .233/.320/.408
- Mallex Smith, CF: 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI, .419/.500/.613
- Michael Mader, SP: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 3.25 ERA
In a game that bore resemblance to the bad loss Mississippi took to start the last series, they took an early lead in this game but couldn’t hold on. It seemed that Jackson really controlled this game throughout, and despite the opportunities Mississippi took to fight back they never really were able to take any momentum. Michael Mader made his first start in nine days, but early on it looked as if he had never left the groove he was in towards the end of the season. He posted a perfect first inning, and then in the second allowed two runners to reach but with did so with two outs and escaped unharmed.
Dylan Moore, called up to replace Ozzie Albies, scored the first run of the game after his first AA hit in the second inning. Mallex Smith immediately followed Moore’s single with a double and Mississippi had the early lead. Keith Curcio reached behind Mallex by getting hit by a pitch, but Dustin Peterson stranded both by striking out. In the third, signs of rust made themselves apparent for Mader as he struggled to get outs. He allowed the first three runners of the inning to reach, and Jackson was threatening with Southern League MVP Tyler O’Neill at the plate with bases loaded and none out. Mader responded with a strikeout of O’Neill, and then forced a double play from the following batter to escaped somehow unscathed.
That luck would not last for Mader, and he hurt himself very quickly by allowing the lead off batter to walk. As often happens to lead off walks, he very quickly scored as the following batter tripled to tie the game. Two batters later a sac fly pushed another run home and Jackson had its first lead of the game. Mader quickly reached two outs in the fifth and seemed to be settling in a bit with just one runner on, but a single and an error cost Mississippi a run and extended Jackson’s lead.
Mississippi was not done fighting yet, and with two outs in the sixth staged a quick rally. Carlos Franco, who has been hot throughout the postseason, doubled and stood in scoring position for Joey Meneses. Meneses was able to knock him in and cut the deficit in half, and in the seventh Mississippi got that final run back. The bottom of the order did the work again, with Johan Camargo and Dylan Moore singling back to back to bring up Mallex Smith with one out. Smith grounded out, but that pushed home the tying run for the Braves.
After trading scoreless half innings, Mississippi turned to Akeel Morris to get them through the 8th inning. Akeel walked the first batter, the 8 hitter, and intentionally walked the leadoff hitter after the No. 9 spot bunting over the first batter of the inning. Akeel forced a big strikeout to get the second out of the inning, but a passed ball allowed the runners to advance into scoring position for the previously mentioned Tyler O’Neill. Given a second opportunity, O’Neill did not disappoint the home crowd and drove a double to score both runs and give Jackson the lead. The next batter doubled in O’Neill, and suddenly Mississippi found itself on the brink of an opening game loss. Connor Lien led off the ninth with a triple, but that was all Mississippi could manage to get on base and they only scored one.
Like with Pensacola, Mississippi now has to fight back to win this series but does so with Sean Newcomb on the mound tomorrow. Having previously worked well together, it would be no surprise to see Joe Odom fresh off the DL get the start. If Newcomb can rebound from a rough previous start, it gives Mississippi a major leg up over Jackson’s Brett Ash. Ash was good down the stretch for the Generals but overall had a poor season. To win this series and the Championship, Mississippi will have to ride the significant advantage they have in pitching with Newcomb, Weigel, Povse, and Sims scheduled for the remainder of the series.
Next Game: 9/13 vs (1-0) Jackson Generals 7:05 PM ET
MIS: Sean Newcomb
JXN: Brett Ash
(0-1) Rome Braves 0, (1-0) Lakewood BlueClaws 5
- Ray-Patrick Didder, RF:0-4, .274/.387/.381
- Austin Riley, 3B: 0-4, .271/.324/.479
- Ronald Acuna, CF: 0-4, .312/.392/.429
- Mike Soroka, SP: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 3.11 ERA
The outcome of this is as simple as it comes to describe, the BlueClaws were just the better team last night. Mike Soroka, as fantastic as he has been all season and as fantastic as he was last night, does not swing a bat nor does he play the infield, and those were the positions that failed. Soroka had his sinker working on an abnormal level today, and nearly every batted ball the entire night was chopped directly into the ground. For two innings, this worked like a charm as he allowed some batters to reach but limited damage especially in a second inning that saw runners at second and third with one out.
In the third inning Soroka quickly and easily disposed of the first two BlueClaws hitters, and forced a ground ball of the third but Austin Riley committed his 4th error of the young postseason. The next batter doubled, and the first of the unearned runs had scored against Soroka. Then, against Franklyn Kilome, that one run all but ended the game. Kilome carried perfection through 4 innings, and in 7 on the night only allowed 1 hit. The Rome Braves flailed horribly at a number of his curveballs, and those balls they put in play all night managed to find their way into gloves. It was just not a night that was meant to be for Rome’s offense, and they were truly and thoroughly dominated.
Soroka forced an insane number of ground balls on the day, 15 of the 20 balls in play were on the ground. Those balls found ways to bite the defenders in a 3 run 7th inning, the last of Soroka’s. He had worked efficiently to that point, and after a 1 out single forced a fairly routine ground ball to second baseman Kevin Josephina. While a double play was not guaranteed, the batter Emmanuel Marrero is not much more than an average runner and one easily could have been turned. The ball kicked off of Josephina’s foot, and did so far enough that the runner on first advanced to third and Marrero was able to reach second base. The next batter singled in a run, one that should not have been on base, and Lakewood doubled their lead.
Soroka responded with a huge strikeout of 2015 first rounder Cornelius Randolph, and appeared to have a way to work out of the trouble with 2 outs. Jose Pujols hit a fairly sharp ground ball to Alejandro Salazar, who had been sure handed on many occasions throughout the night, but Salazar had it well played and set up for a routine play to end the inning. In yet another turn of poor luck for the Braves the ball took a weird kick on the last hop, and skittered into center field allowing the 2 runners to easily score and give Lakewood a 4-0 lead. Soroka worked out of it, but with the way the bats were working the lead seemed and was insurmountable.
Beating Rome is no easy task, and that’s just doing it once. Lakewood now has the task of taking Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, and presumably Mike Soroka again, and has to go 2-2 in those games. While losing with their ace on the mound seems a devastating blow, the sheer depth in this pitching staff makes it seem like they still have a solid chance to win the series. Toussaint will face the same challenge tomorrow that Michael Mader did today, 7 days of rust and 11 since his last start. For a player who struggles to repeat his mechanics on a consistent basis as Toussaint does, the time off poses a serious challenge. To make matters worse, he faces Seranthony Dominguez who has been nothing short of incredible for Lakewood especially since the start of August.
Next Game: 9/13 vs (1-0) Lakewood BlueClaws 7:05 PM ET
ROM: Touki Toussaint
LWD: Seranthony Dominguez