(70-69) Gwinnett Braves 1, (84-55) Durham Bulls 0 Game 1
Ronald Acuna, CF: 1-2, BB, 2 SB, .340/.391/.536
Micah Johnson, DH: 1-3, HR, RBI, .295/.377/.409
Kris Medlen, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 5.42 ERA
(70-69) Gwinnett Braves 0, (84-55) Durham Bulls 2 Game 2
Ronald Acuna, CF: 2-4, .343/.393/.535
Dustin Peterson, LF: 0-2, BB, .248/.318/.318
Philip Pfeifer, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3.60 ERA
A dominant performance by Kris Medlen in game one led the Braves to a slim win, but the Bulls pitching staff returned the favor in game two and Gwinnett settled for a split of the doubleheader. After Medlen shut down the Bulls in order through the first two innings of the first game, Micah Johnson broke the early tie with a solo home run to lead off the second inning. For Medlen, that was all he would need as he cruised to a shutout win over Durham. Medlen allowed his first hit of the game with 2 outs in the third inning, to the 9 hitter of course, but came back to get a ground out from Mallex Smith. Ronald Acuna singled with one out in the bottom of the frame, then stole bases number 43 and 44 on the season to get to third but was stranded by a strikeout. The 4th inning turned into trouble for Medlen, and he loaded the bases with 2 outs on a couple of hits and a hit by pitch. Medlen recorded two strikeouts and a soft ground ball that ending the inning and kept the slim lead in tact. Medlen faced one over the minimum for the next 4 innings to finish a 7-inning shutout as his last hurrah of the 2017 season, ending a rocky but useful stretch as he averaged more than 6 innings per start over his last 12 starts.
Bullpens were the name of the game in the second half of the double header, and Philip Pfeifer got out to a strong start with a 1-2-3 first inning. In the bottom of the frame Ronald Acuna led off with a base hit, then a one out single by Micah Johnson and a wild pitch put Gwinnett in business early. Carlos Franco and Dustin Peterson both struck out to end the inning, and that early wasted opportunity would come back to haunt the Braves. Pfeif Dawg pitched a scoreless second inning but got into trouble in the 3rd with a one out walk and a double that gave Durham a lead. A stolen base and a sacrifice fly extended the lead to 2. Akeel Morris had a couple of scoreless innings in the game, and set the stage for a rally in the 5th inning, started by a leadoff walk to Sal Giardina. Our old friend Jonny Venters (2.28 ERA this season) came in following that, and allowed a walk and an infield single that loaded the bases with nobody out. Venters did his things and struck out the next two batters then forced a ground ball and once again Gwinnett came up empty after being given prime scoring opportunity. Danny Reynolds pitched 2 scoreless innings to keep the game at 2-0, and in the 7th the Braves made a last ditch effort to pull out a win. With 2 outs in the inning the Braves loaded the bases, but a Carlos Franco strikeout ended it and sent the Braves home with a split of the day’s games.
Next Game: 9/3 vs (85-55) Durham Bulls @ 1:05 PM ET
DUR: Brent Honeywell (11-8, 3.80 ERA)
(56-80) Mississippi Braves 2, (53-83) Birmingham Barons 3
Austin Riley, 3B: 3-4, 3B, .298/.376/.491
Alex Jackson, C: 2-4, .248/.315/.426
Travis Demeritte, 2B: 0-4, .229/.305/.394
Tyler Pike, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 4.58 ERA
A strong outing by Tyler Pike put the Braves in a good position, but a lack of offense and a late Barons run gave Mississippi a loss. The MBraves offense was quiet through 5 innings, only advancing one runner to second base, and Birmingham took advantage early and held on to a 2-0 lead. Austin Riley started off a rally in the 6th with a leadoff triple, and Joey Meneses followed him with an RBI single. A one out single to Alex Jackson chased off Barons’s starter Alec Hansen, and reliever Jace Fry intentionally walked Joe Odom with 2 outs and runners on second and third and then walked Connor Joe to allow the Braves to tie the game at two. Mississippi threatened again behind Dylan Moore in the seventh as he singled, stole second base, and advanced to third on an error, but Moore was thrown out trying to score on a fly ball from Joey Meneses and ended the inning. Mississippi went gentle into the good night following Birmingham taking the lead in the 8th, and lost their 80th game of the season.
Tyler Pike looked to have his hands full early in the game, as a walk, a hit, and a wild pitch had 2 men in scoring position with one out in the second inning. Another walk and a two out single allowed 2 runs to score, and with a struggling offense Pike was desperately in need to end the bleeding. Pike picked a man off to end the poor frame, and then went on a tear over his final 4 innings and pitched some of his best ball since his promotion to Mississippi. Pike set down the next 6 batters he faced, 3 of those on strikeouts, before a double from Trey Michalczewski (nailed it) that led off the 5th. Pike then set down the next three batters, 2 on strikeouts, and pitched another quick inning in the sixth to finish the game on a strong run. Mauricio Cabrera found the zone in this game with 10 of his 13 pitches, and as per usual when he can throw strikes was dominant and struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced. Josh Graham was brought in for the 8th inning and allowed hits to 3 of the first four batters and gave Birmingham a 3-2 lead in the game. He bounced back with a double play and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but the Braves weren’t able to create enough offense to save the game for Graham.
Next Game: 9/3 vs (53-83) Birmingham Barons @ 6:00 PM ET
MIS: Wes Parsons (3-3, 2.82 ERA)
BIR: Jordan Stephens (3-6, 2.79 ERA)
(72-65) Rome Braves 10, (68-68) Columbia Fireflies 0
Isranel Wilson, CF: 3-5, 3B, RBI, .259/.330/.333
Bradley Keller, LF: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .162/.222/.338
Kevin Josephina, 2B: 5-5, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, .249/.284/.315
Jeremy Walker, SP: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.97 ERA
Rome dominated on both sides of the ball, amazing given how round it is, in a 10-0 win over the Fireflies. The first of Kevin Josephina’s 5 hits ignited the scoring in the second inning, and 2 more hits in the inning gave Rome an early 2-0 lead. A hit by pitch and a Lucas Herbert double had the Braves in business again in the third, and Josephina came through with a 2 run double to make it 4-0 in favor of the Braves. Isranel Wilson got his first hit in the 4th inning with a 2 out triple, then came in to score Rome’s 5th run on a Jordan Rodgers single. Kevin Josephina had another hit in the 5th inning but Rome couldn’t come through with any runs. Bradley Keller doubled to lead off the 6th inning and Izzy pushed him to third on an infield single, then a sacrifice fly from Rodgers got the Braves their 6th run of the game. A fielding error got the fun started in the 7th inning and put Leudys Baez on base, allowing Kevin Josephina to come through with his 4th hit and 3rd RBI on a triple into right field. Anthony Concepcion followed with a single and made the game 8-0 in favor of the Braves. A single from Isranel Wilson with 2 outs scored the third run of the inning. A walk and a fielding error put two runners on for Josephina in the 8th inning, and he did what he does and came through with his 5th hit and 4th RBI to score Carlos Martinez and give Rome’s offense an even 10 runs.
Not that they needed to be, but Rome’s pitching staff was dominant and shut out the FIreflies offense. Jeremy Walker led the way with 5 scoreless innings pitched, and though he only had 2 strikeouts he didn’t allow a walk and forced 8 ground ball outs, two of those turning into double plays. Over the final 2 months of the season Walker was arguably the most effective pitcher on Rome’s staff, and over his 11 starts dating back to the beginning of July he pitched 61 2⁄3 innings to a 1.90 ERA with only 5 walks allowed. Taylor Lewis closed out the game with 4 scoreless innings, and only allowed 2 hits while striking out 2. Lewis was heavily ground ball oriented in the game as well, with 7 ground ball outs over his outing.
Next Game: 9/3 vs (68-68) Columbia Fireflies 2:00 PM ET
ROM: Tucker Davidson(5-4, 2.53 ERA)
COL: Martin Anderson (0-4, 5.76 ERA)