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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Landon Stephens and Vaughn Grissom homered in Rome win

It was a home run barrage on the farm, as Mississippi and Rome combined to hit ten of them and score 31 runs

Rome Braves prospect Landon Stephens follows through on a swing after hitting a home run. Photo Credit: Mills Fitzner

Offense ruled the day in the two wins in the system, as Mississippi and Rome had the cannons loaded for 31 combined runs and ten combined home runs. CJ Alexander and Drew Lugbauer led the way with a couple of home runs each for Mississippi, while Vaughn Grissom hit one into outer space in Rome’s win.

(23-23) Gwinnett Stripers 2, (22-24) Norfolk Tides 5

Box Score

  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 0-4, .285/.347/.408
  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-4, SB, RBI, .300/.323/.467
  • Preston Tucker, DH: 2-4, .274/.338/.395
  • Kyle Muller, SP: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 3.83 ERA
  • Michael Tonkin, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2.84 ERA

The Stripers faced a tough task in top prospect Grayson Rodriguez, and he looked every bit his part as he dominated Gwinnett over seven scoreless innings with only two hits allowed. Gwinnett fell to a 5-0 deficit in this time, but when Rodriguez left the offense got an immediate boost and tried to work its way back into the game. Alex Dickerson doubled to lead off the eighth inning and was scored on a Ryan Goins double a few plays later. In turn Goins was brought home by Drew Waters’s lone hit in the game, but after Waters stole second base Braden Shewmake struck out to end the scoring threat. Facing a three run deficit in the ninth inning the middle of the order went down with a whimper as Norfolk topped Gwinnett 5-2.

Kyle Muller’s outing was defined by mixed results, as he struck out seven batters and was efficient enough to pitch into the sixth inning, but hard hit balls doomed him to allowing three runs. Despite the three walks on the line Muller was pounding the strike zone in the game with 71 of his 98 pitches going for strikes and none of the walks came back to bite him on the scoreboard. Muller struck out the side in the first inning, but a two run home run in the second showed a complete reversal and Gwinnett never caught up after this point. A leadoff double in the fifth inning marked a third extra base hit against him in the game, and after the runner was moved over to third base a wild pitch scored the third run of the game. Muller ended his outing by retiring two batters in the sixth inning, though he did not have a strike out after the fourth. Brandon Brennan did not provide much support in relief as he allowed two runs in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach for a struggling Stripers lineup. Michael Tonkin gave Gwinnett a scoreless eighth inning.

Next Game: 5/28 @ (22-24) Norfolk Tides @ 6:35 PM ET

(21-22) Mississippi Braves 19, (20-18) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 6

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 2-5, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .305/.372/.506
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 2-6, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .245/.354/.535
  • Luke Waddell, 2B: 2-4, 2B, 2 BB, 3 RBI, .275/.366/.383
  • CJ Alexander, 3B: 3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .252/.303/.439
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 7.59 ERA
  • Hayden Deal, RP: 2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2.77 ERA

A spring storm impacted this game down in Florida, but the rain this time came from the Mississippi Braves’s bats as they hit six home runs and scored 19 runs in a rout of the Blue Wahoos. Luke Waddell had the first key hit in the game, as he doubled home two runs in the second inning to give Mississippi a 3-1 lead that they would not relinquish. A two run home run in the third inning by CJ Alexander extended the lead to 5-1 before the Braves really broke the game open in the fifth inning. A home run from Yariel Gonzalez and Alexander’s second two run home run scored three more runs, and when Michael Harris drove in two more with a double Mississippi had doubled their output with a five run inning. For fun they also added back-to-back home runs from Hendrik Clementina and Drew Lugbauer in the sixth inning, and Lugbauer put the cherry on top of this game in the ninth inning when his second home run was a grand slam to make it 19-4. Every member in the lineup except Jalen Miller had a hit, with Hendrik Clementina leading the way on a 5-5 day with a walk and home run.

Tanner Gordon did far more than he needed to in order to secure the win, firing six innings with only one run allowed. His biggest troubles came in the first inning, as in a 1-0 game he allowed two hits and walk to load the bases with just one out. A sacrifice fly did bring home a run, but he prevented Pensacola from ever taking the lead and the rest is history. He allowed two more runners each in the second and third innings, but escaped both times unscathed and spent the final innings cruising as he didn't allow another hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. The bullpen for Mississippi struggled, as if it matters, with Hayden Deal and Odalvi Javier combining to allow five runs in three innings of relief.

Next Game: 5/28 @ (20-18) Pensacola Blue Wahoos @ 7:05 PM ET

(25-18) Rome Braves 12, (19-23) Hudson Valley Renegades 10

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-4, HR, 2 BB, SB, RBI .261/.369/.412
  • Landon Stephens, RF: 2-4, 2B, HR, BB, 4 RBI, .268/.389/.630
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 1-5, 2B, BB, .304/.402/.486
  • Andrew Hoffmann, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2.93 ERA
  • Trey Riley, RP: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 7.27 ERA

This game became a lot tighter in the end than it had any reason to be, and every one of Rome’s early and late runs became important in a 12-10 win. Rome quickly jumped ahead in this one in the first inning when Hudson Valley minority owner Landon Stephens crushed a three run home run. Stephens is the South Atlantic League’s third most proficient home run hitter, and much of his work has come against the Renegades. In nine games Stephens has crushed seven home runs and driven in 19 of his league-leading 42 RBIs. He has homered in three straight games and has four home runs in those games. The long balls kept launching for the Braves as solo shots from Cade Bunnell and Vaughn Grissom had them holding a 5-1 lead after the fifth inning. The Renegades started the sixth inning by loading the base on three straight walks, and then errors turned the inning into a nightmare as Rome recorded only one hit in the inning but scored five runs to break the game wide open. Things began to get hairy and Hudson Valley closed the game to 10-7 after 8 innings of play. Beau Philip kept the distance with a two run home run in the ninth inning, a play which proved key in the outcome of the game.

Andrew Hoffman was outstanding for the Braves, and he was about the only one as he held the pitching staff together in this game. He got into early trouble in the first inning when two runners got into scoring position, but he responded with consecutive strikeouts to end that threat. That set off a streak of strong pitching, and he only allowed two scattered base hits going into the fifth inning. His one major mistake came in this inning and he allowed a solo home run, but he was otherwise untouched in this game and went six innings. for the fourth time this season. He handed the ball to the bullpen in the seventh with a 10-1 lead, and the game immediately changed tone.

Dylan Spain was first out of the bullpen, and he threw four pitches before a ball was lined off of his throwing hand for a hit. He left the game immediately and the short prep time may have impacted Trey Riley who was a bit of a mess. Riley allowed a hit and a walk before a sacrifice fly and three run home run cut the game to 10-5. A walk and another hit ended his day and brought on Alec Barger. Barger finished out the seventh with no further damage, but he wasn’t much better in the eighth inning as a two run home run brought the game down to 10-7. Coming into the game Malcolm Van Buren had been having a fantastic season with only 2 earned runs in 12 13 innings. He was not fantastic and threw only four strikes over five batters faced as he walked every single one to put the tying run on first base. Benjamin Dum found himself protecting a three run lead with bases loaded and no outs, and he managed to close out the game by retiring three of the next four batters and only allowing a sacrifice fly to score a run.

Next Game: 5/28 @ (19-23) Hudson Valley Renegades @ 6:05 PM ET

(21-21) Augusta GreenJackets 5, (31-11) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 11

Box Score

  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 1-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .184/.290/.395
  • Brandol Mezquita, RF: 1-3, .336/.410/.448
  • Rolddy Munoz, RP: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 5.87 ERA

This suspended game from Thursday night picked back up in the bottom of the fifth inning, with Augusta trailing 6-2. It took six batters for that to be 8-2, as Myrtle Beach jumped all over Rolddy Munoz in the top of the sixth inning with a two run home run. Munoz was tasked with just covering the end of this game, and he was not particularly effective as he allowed seven hits and five runs. Another two run home run in the ninth inning provided the final chunk of those five runs, as Rolddy mostly settled down in innings seven and eight to give the GreenJackets some much-needed length. Adam Zebrowski drove in the third Augusta run in the sixth inning, looping a single into right field that scored a run from first and advanced Zebrowski around to third after an errant throw. Brandol Mezquita was hit by a pitch to give the GreenJackets a breath of life with runners on and one out, but two strikeouts snuffed this glimmer of light. Brian Klein added on a couple of runs with a bases loaded single in the ninth inning, but the game was well in hand at this point and Augusta lost 11-5.

(21-22) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (32-11) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 3

Box Score

  • Caleb Durbin, 2B: 0-2 BB, .271/.389/.411
  • Brandol Mezquita, RF: 1-3, .336/.408/.445
  • Cal Conley, SS: 1-3, 2B, RBI, .205/.264/.361
  • Landon Leach, RP: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4.55 ERA
  • Isrrael De La Cruz, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.31 ERA

The seven inning affair in the night cap was much more competitive, though the end result did not favor the GreenJackets. Augusta had just three hits in this game, and two of those came in the second inning to give them an early scoring opportunity with no outs. One was, of course, Brandol Mezquita who now holds a ten game hitting streak and 34 game on base streak. This early threat provided no results as a couple of strikeouts and a force out kept Augusta scoreless, but they made their next opportunity count. Cal Conley had the final hit of the GreenJackets’s day when he doubled to to score Caleb Durbin who had previously walked in the inning. Conley then made vroom vroom by stealing third base and scoring on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 2-0. As previously mentioned that was all she wrote for Augusta, as the only other baserunner in the game came on a fourth inning walk to Rusber Estrada.

Landon Leach did not dominate as Myrtle Beach did late, but he made what he had work to allow only one run. This despite loading the bases with one out in the first inning, before forcing a pop out and ground out to tiptoe out of major trouble. After the walk to load the bases Leach went one time through the lineup perfect before a base hit in the fourth inning broke the streak. The final hit he allowed happened to be the big one, as a solo home run broke the shutout and cut the Augusta lead to 2-1. The bullpen for Augusta was assisted by Munoz’s strong performance earlier in the day, and the go-to arms came in rested with an opportunity to close out a close win over a good team. Isrrael De La Cruz started the bid with two strikeouts in a scoreless sixth inning, and then made way for closer Rob Griswold who has had a fantastic season. A fantastic season up until this outing, when he allowed a two-run, go-ahead home run that was the deciding play in the game. Griswold allowed four hits and a walk in the inning, and as such was fortunate it was not a worse outing than just two runs.

Next Game: 5/28 vs (32-11) Myrtle Beach Pelicans @ 6:05 PM ET