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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Waters walks off for Gwinnett

A wild day of games was headlines by Waters’s three hits

2021 Sirius XM Futures Game Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

There were a number of Atlanta Braves prospects who put up strong offensive performances, and it comes as no surprise that one of those was from Michael Harris II. Harris had two hits in a Mississippi win to extend his on base streak to 27 games. Up in Gwinnett another top outfield prospect had a field day as Drew Waters had three hits including the walk off in the ninth inning.

(15-15) Gwinnett Stripers 6, (12-18) Charlotte Knights 5

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 3-5, RBI, .538/.538/.769
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 2-4, 2B, .284/.333/.407
  • Chadwick Tromp, C: 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, .364/.390/.727
  • Connor Johnstone, SP: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1.93 ERA
  • Dylan Lee, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1.54 ERA

A back-and-forth affair started early in this game with Charlotte taking a first inning lead, but Gwinnett answered back quickly. Drew Waters led off for Gwinnett with a base hit and, along with Hernan Perez, scored on a two run double from Chadwick Tromp. After two more runs from the Knights, Gwinnett trailed coming into the bottom of the third inning. Braden Shewmake ripped a ball for a double to get a potential rally going, and while Gwinnett couldn’t make major headway they were able to get Shewmake in to score with some ABC baseball and tie the game up, Unfortunately the Gwinnett bats weren’t as hot as those early innings and they struggled to produce scoring opportunities as the next 16 batters after Shewmake were retired consecutively. Waters and Shewmake broke this streak by singling consecutively with one out in the 8th inning, but a double play erased the scoring threat and sent the Stripers to the plate in the ninth down two runs. The offense was awakening, and Preston Tucker’s leadoff double had them immediately threatening to tie the game. Tromp followed with a double to score Tucker and put the tying run on base and he was able to come around to score on a sacrifice fly with two outs. A single and hit batter then turned the lineup over to Drew Waters, whose third hit of the game walked it off for a Gwinnett win.

Gwinnett turned to a bullpen game for the final outing of the series, with workhorse legend Connor Johnstone taking the ball as the opener. Johnstone has been fantastic this season, but was no so hot on this day and struggled to limit a strong Charlotte offense. He allowed an unearned run in the first inning, but it was his own throwing error that led to it leading to a runner coming home on a double play. He pitched a scoreless second inning, but the only out he recorded in the third was a sacrifice bunt as he allowed three hits before being pulled. Thomas Burrows allowed one of those inherited runners to score on a sacrifice fly but was altogether solid as allowed only an unearned run over 1 23 innings. Brandon Brennan allowed the fifth and final run in the fifth inning before he and the rest of the Stripers bullpen locked down for the final four. Dylan Lee had the best pitching performance of the day, extending his great work in his Stripers career with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts.

Next Game: 5/10 @ (12-18) Durham Bulls @ 6:35 PM ET

(11-16) Mississippi Braves 6, (12-15) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 2-4, 2B, .319/.369/.549
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-3, BB .245/.362/.551
  • Luke Waddell, SS: 1-2, HR, HBP, 2 RBI, .295/.376/.443
  • Darius Vines, SP: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 K, 4.60 ERA
  • Indigo Diaz, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 4.09 ERA

Darius Vines put on an absolute clinic for sixth innings, and when he finally faltered the Mississippi offense was there to pick him up to take a win. The two sides were locked up scoreless through four innings with the Braves being no hit, then Michael Harris II singled to extend his hitting streak. Two batters later Luke Waddell put one over the fence and Mississippi had a 2-0 lead to run with. This held up for awhile as the offense continued to struggled, but after three runs in the top of the 7th gave Pensacola the lead the Braves got going. A walk and an error had two runners on to lead off the inning and both of those scored to give Mississippi a lead. A double from Michael Harris had two runners in scoring position with two outs to set up Justin Dean’s two run triple that gave the Braves bullpen some breathing room.

Darius Vines had absolutely everything working today and put together his best start at Double-A despite the final line not showing how strong it was. A quick 1-2-3 first inning with a strikeout was a sign of things to come, but he took his game to the next level by striking out the next seven batters in a row. Two groundouts had him through four perfect inning and after two more strikeouts in the fifth he was sitting with 10 strikeouts and a perfect game. A leadoff double in the sixth broke up the perfect game, but he stranded the runner and retired the next three hitters to keep the shutout and 2-0 lead intact. Vines was brought out to try to take the seventh inning but it didn’t go so well as he recorded only one out and allowed a three run home run before being pulled from the game. Jake Higginbotham pitched a scoreless eighth inning and the now red hot Indigo Diaz struck out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game. Since his rough first two outings Diaz has pitched 9 23 innings, struck out 15 batters, walked three, and allowed just one run.

Next Game: 5/10 @ (14-13) Chattanooga Lookouts @ 7:15 PM ET

(14-13) Rome Braves 3, (13-14) Greenville Drive 10

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 0-3, HBP, .269/.382/.376
  • Christian Robinson, RF: 2-3, 2B, RBI, .312/.376/.468
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 1-3, 2B, BB, .282/.396/.459
  • Dylan Dodd, SP: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 6.44 ERA
  • Justin Yeager, RP: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.90 ERA

Rome had absolutely nothing working and were easily dismissed in their fourth straight loss to the Drive to end a 1-5 week. The Braves offense struggled mightily in the early going as Greenville took an 8-0 lead before Rome ever sent a runner home. It took seven innings but the Braves were finally gifted their best opportunity as two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Hits from Christian Robinson and Beau Philip scored all three runs — the only offensive production for the Braves on the day. Robinson is quietly putting together a strong season and over his past 15 games is hitting .375/.426/.589.

Dylan Dodd’s struggled at Rome continued as he could not avoid big innings in this start. Dodd had two strikeouts in a quiet first inning, but allowed four hits and runs in the second including a three run home run that broke the game wide open early. Dodd mostly settled down, and while he didn’t consistently miss bats he was able to work around his contact through five innings to keep the game somewhat manageable. That did not last, however, and he recorded only one out while allowing two hits and a runner on base via a wild pitch on a strikeout before being pulled. Justin Yeager was brought in to relieve Dodd and immediately lost his 0.00 ERA on the season as a three run home run put a cap on a Greenville win. Yeager struck out the side in the seventh inning but hit a batter and walked another with both runners coming in to score on a double steal in which the catcher made a horrible throw that rolled into the corner behind third base. Yeager has maddening command issues with eight walks and a hit batter in 10 innings this season, but has been able to work around that until now with 22 strikeouts and a .063 batting average against.

Next Game: 5/7 vs (15-10) Winston-Salem Dash @ 11:00 AM ET

(15-12) Augusta GreenJackets 9, (14-13) Carolina Mudcats 7

Box Score

  • Braulio Vasquez, 1B: 0-3, 2 BB, .298/.421/.389
  • Kadon Morton, CF: 4-4, BB, RBI, .183/.293/.268
  • Stephen Paolini, RF: 1-5, HR, .205/.314/.273
  • Luis Vargas, SP: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3.60 ERA
  • Juan Mateo, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2.53 ERA

Augusta’s offense never stopped coming in this game, and that was a good thing as a late Mudcats rally brought this game close. Augusta scored three run in the first inning, with the final one of those coming on the first of Kadon Morton’s four hits in the game, and that lead would last them quite awhile. Both sides struggled to score a bit early until the fifth inning when Augusta got a couple of hits to kick off the fifth inning. Both runners came in to score and extend the lead to 5-1 which got knocked down to 5-2 in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the eighth inning Morton and Braulio Vasquez reached base to put runners on for Caleb Durbin, who cracked a three run triple that put the game seemingly in hand at 7-2. Nothing at this level is even close to guaranteed, and that was proven as the bottom of the eighth saw Carolina rally for five runs to even the game up at 7-7. Now facing a tied game Stephen Paolini put Augusta back in front with a ninth inning solo home run. Three walks and a Morton single brought another run home in the inning, and thankfully stranding the bases loaded didn't come back to haunt them as they closed it out in the ninth.

Luis Vargas had it working in the early innings, and behind that three run lead only allowed one hit for the first three innings of the game. He started to crack a bit as his pitch count drifted up and he allowed runs in each the fourth and fifth innings before being pulled with one out in the fifth. Isrrael De La Cruz came in to pitch in relief of Vargas and did a fantastic job covering the next eight outs in order to send it to the eighth. De La Cruz immediately ran into a wall and allowed a leadoff home run before loading the bases on two hits and a walk. He was pulled with no outs in the inning and Juan Mateo allowed all three inherited runners to score plus a run of his own to tie the game. Mateo allowed a leadoff walk in the ninth inning, but got a double play to erase that before a ground out ended a wild game.

Next Game: 5/10 vs (10-17) Columbia Fireflies @ 7:05 PM ET

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