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Braves Minor League Recap: JR Ritchie perfect in season debut

Ritchie struck out seven over three perfect innings to lead Augusta to a win

2022 MLB Draft Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves system had a lot of action on Saturday evening, and JR Ritchie was the star of the show with his performance in Augusta. Drake Baldwin also impressed, bringing the lumber to lead Rome to a win.

(2-11) Gwinnett Stripers 1, (9-5) Memphis RedBirds 5

Box Score

  • Luke Waddell, SS: 0-4, .000/.111/.000
  • Justin Dean, LF: 1-2, BB, SB, .182/.342/.333
  • Allan Winans, SP: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 4.80 ERA
  • Roddery Munoz, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

The streak continues for Gwinnett, as they have yet again failed to pick up a win against Memphis and are now a game away from being swept. The Stripers actually jumped out to an early lead in the second inning, with Magneuris Sierra getting the inning started with a single. Joe Hudson followed that with a double and Sierra streaked around from first base to score the go ahead run. Gwinnett was then held completely in check the rest of the game, never getting two runners on in the same inning again until they already trailed 5-1. Gwinnett holds the worst team OPS in the International League.

Fortunately for Gwinnett their pitching staff is a bit better than the hitting, so instead of being the worst they have simply the second-worst team ERA. Allan Winans missed his fair share of bats and struck out six batters, but finally got cracked for a game-tying home run in the third inning. The second time through the lineup was not as kind to Winans and he departed in the sixth inning with the team trailing 3-1 and a running on second. Roel Ramirez did not put out the fire and in fact allowed a run of his own to make it 5-1 in favor of Memphia. Roddery Munoz provided the bright spot in the game, as if he is getting an audition out of the bullpen he has done a swell job so far. Today Munoz pitched two scoreless innings, struck out two batters, and importantly threw 16 of his 24 pitches for strikes.

(3-5) Mississippi Braves 6, (5-3) Chattanooga Lookouts 7

Box Score

  • Cody Milligan, CF: 2-4, 2B, BB, .367/.513/.633
  • Cal Conley, SS: 2-5, 3B, RBI, .233/.361/.333
  • Cade Bunnell, 2B: 3-4, BB, 2 RBI, .269/.367/.423
  • Daniel Martinez, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 9.00 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3.60 ERA

Mississippi made a strong late comeback in this game, but it fell short as they moved to 3-5 on the season. The Braves were first on the board thanks to the top of the order having a hot night at the plate, with Cal Conley and Cade Bunnell each providing RBI hits. That lead lasted all of the rest of the inning before Chattanooga came back and took a lead they would not relinquish. Bunnell’s second RBI single got Mississippi one run closer in the seventh inning but it really never looked like they were in the game. That was until the power bats started going, and it should be no surprise to see Drew Lugbauer leading the charge with his third home run of the season. Hudson Potts and Arden Pabst each added solo home runs in the inning and suddenly Mississippi was one more big swing away from tyng the game. Unfortunately that swing never happened and a double play off of the bat of Lugbauer ended the game in the ninth with Mississippi a run short.

Daniel Martinez had a rough time on the mound in the first inning as he allowed three runs thanks to a hit, three walks, a hit batter, and an error. Martinez managed to squeak through the next to innings cleanly but got hit around again in the fourth inning as Mississippi fell behind 5-2. The bullpen then wasn’t able to keep it there as Victor Vodnik allowed a run in each of the two innings he pitched to stretch the Lookouts lead even further.

(2-4) Rome Braves 10, (5-1) Bowling Green Hot Rods 5

Box Score

Drake Baldwin, C: 3-5, 2 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .333/.520/.444

Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 2-4, 2B, 2 BB, RBI, .280/.455/.360

Keshawn Ogans, 3B: 2-4, BB, 3 RBI, .273/.385/.318

Hunter Riggins, SP: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 10.80 ERA

Rome’s offense broke free in this game, scoring runs throughout the game to hand Bowling Green their first loss of the season. Two walks in the first inning led to Rome getting their first lead a Bryson Horne doubled Drake Baldwin home to make it a 1-0. Rome didn’t capitalize further and soon after fell behind 3-1. Here the rally train started chugging and the Braves got four singles from Horne, Brandol Mezquita, Kadon Morton, and Keshawn Ogans with the final scoring two runs to tie the game. Bowling Green responded with two of their own before the Braves really got rolling in the fifth inning. Baldwin led off the inning with a double and Nacho Alvarez was not far behind with one of his own to get a run on the board. Two batters later and Mezquita tied the game with a hit an Cory Acton had the go ahead single that the Hot Rods would never come back from. Kevin Kilpatrick scored the seventh run on a balk in the eighth inning and Rome tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth inning. The final of those came from Badwin, who had a huge day at the plate to get his OPS over .900.

Starter Hunter Riggins struggled for Rome, as he allowed five runs over four innings to keep putting Rome behind in the game. After Riggins left the bullpen was fantastic, allowing the offense a chance to add on to the lead. Estarlin Rodriguez got the win in the game as he put up two scoreless innings immediately in relief of Riggins to bridge those middle frames. Daysbel Hernandez made a rehab appearances in the seventh inning and pitched a scoreless one but also walked two batters and only threw six of his 17 pitches for strikes. Peyton Williams closed the door with a fantastic game, sitting six straight Hot Rods down including four strikeouts to close out a save.

(2-4) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (5-2) Down East Wood Ducks 0

Box Score

  • Tyler Collins, CF: 0-3. BB, .242/.336/.326
  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 1-4, .224/.371/.365
  • JR Ritchie, SP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA
  • Landon Harper, RP: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4.50 ERA

The JR Ritchie show was on full display for the GreenJackets, and the pitching staff as a whole shut down the Wood Ducks. Unfortunately the offense didn’t quite have the same success and if not for a fortuitous bounce we might still be seeing this game played. Justin Janas and Ethan Workinger started off the second inning with base hits, but with one out in the inning the chaos really started. Dawson Dimon lifted a floater into very shallow center field which would result in an infield fly. However on the play the ball skipped off of the glove of the shortstop and Janas advanced to third where an errant throw would send him home for the first run. Francisco Floyd followed that up with a base hit to make it 2-0.

You might have heard us talk on this site about our excitement to see JR Ritchie pitch, and I can assure you that the Down East Wood Ducks would be very happy to never experience that again. Ritchie made fools of the Woodies with his curveball, striking out seven batters and now allowing a baserunner over three innings. Ritchie took special pleasure in his toment of the bottom of the order, striking out the final five batters he faced as I drove desperately down I-20 trying to get to SRP Park in time to catch an inning of him pitching. Well that did not happen, but I did get to see Landon Harper go three scoreless innings to send it to the late innings still 2-0. Chad Bryant pitched two scoreless innings of relief and utilized his curveball for three strikeouts. Rob Griswold got his outing off to a good start thanks to Ambioris Tavarez, who ranged to his right to make a solid backhand play and throw from the deep hole that he made look much easier than it was. Griswold closed out the inning with little trouble to get Augusta their second win of the season.

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