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Braves Minor League Recap: Gwinnett falls in extras, Drake Baldwin homers

Both of Atlanta’s upper minor league affiliates fell on Wednesday as Rome and Augusta brought home wins on Wednesday in what was a jam-packed day.

Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Wednesday’s slate of Braves minor league action had it all. Solid pitching performances, extra innings and offensive firepower in what was a so-so day down on the farm.

(11-17) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (13-16) Charlotte Knights 6

  • Luke Waddell, 2B: 1-2, RBI
  • Yolmer Sanchez, 3B: 2-3
  • Allan Winans, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K
  • Raisel Iglesias, RP: 1 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K

Box Score

Atlanta’s top MiLB affiliate lost a heartbreaker on Wednesday night. After winning the first game of the series against Charlotte on Tuesday, extra innings would be required to determine a winner in game two.

With Allan Winans getting the start on the mound for the Stripers, things would remain quiet for the first three innings, but Charlotte would plate two runs in the top of the fourth for the first lead of the game for either squad.

Raisel Iglesias would take over in the top of the seventh as he continued his rehab assignment. Iglesias would notch three strikeouts — while allowing one hit — in the seventh inning.

Gwinnett wouldn’t score their first run of the game until the bottom of the seventh, courtesy of a Luke Waddell sac fly, scoring Braden Shewmake to make it 2-1 through seven.

After allowing a leadoff double to start the eighth, Iglesias would give way to Yacksel Rios. Charlotte would take the lead on a sac fly as the run was charged to Iglesias, the first of his rehab stint, to extend their lead to 3-1.

Trailing by two with only six outs to play with, Gwinnett would tie things up thanks to a little help from the Charlotte defense. After stringing together a pair of singles by Charlie Culberson and Eli White, Forrest Wall popped out in foul territory. With two runners on, Culberson would score on a passed ball and Nick Solak would single in White to knot the game at 3-3.

Neither squad could push across a run in the ninth inning, sending the game to extras.

After fighting back to tie things up in the late going, the top of the tenth was not kind to Gwinnett as things would fall apart.

Charlotte would send eight batters to the plate — thanks in part to four walks issued by Roddery Munoz — in the frame and plate three runs to take a 6-3 lead.

The deficit would be too much for the Stripers to overcome as they would fall by that 6-3 final.

(8-15) Mississippi Braves 0, (13-10) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3

  • Javier Valdes, C: 2-4
  • Bryson Worrell, DH: 1-4, 2B
  • Scott Blewett, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 1 IP, BB, 2 K

Box Score

It was a day to forget for most of the Mississippi roster on Wednesday as they were blanked by Pensacola, handing the Braves their third straight loss.

Things got off to a rocky start for the Braves as Scott Blewett would surrender a two-run homer to Will Banfield in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Blue Wahoos and early 2-0 lead. Pensacola would get another run in the bottom of the third, extending their lead to 3-0.

While three runs might be enough to give your offense a fighting chance on most days, a key component needed to do is… well, hitting. And Mississippi had a rough go of it at the dish.

Mustering only four hits, the Braves actually managed to get a runner in scoring position in the first five frames, but failed to bring any of them around to score. Things wouldn’t improve in the later innings as the Pensacola pitching staff would hold Mississippi scoreless the rest of the way, handing the Braves the loss.

Despite the lackluster day offensively, there were one or two bright spots for Mississippi. Catcher Javier Valdes notched two of the Braves four hits on the day, raising his average to .327 and his OPS to 1.033 through 49 at-bats. Additionally, Bryson Worrell got his first hit, a double into right field, since being called up to Double-A straight from the FCL. Worrell was signed as an undrafted free agent by Atlanta after attending East Carolina University.

(10-12) Rome Braves 4, (9-12) Bowling Green Hot Rods 3

  • Drake Baldwin, C: 2-3, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
  • Nacho Alvarez, SS: 1-3, RBI, R, BB
  • J.J. Niekro, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

Box Score

Rome rode a three-run fourth inning to their second straight win over Bowling Green on Wednesday.

J.J. Niekro got the start for the Braves and tossed two scoreless innings before allowing a run in both the third and fourth innings, both on sac flies, giving Bowling Green a 2-0 lead.

It wouldn’t take long however, for Rome to get both of those runs — and more — back. In the bottom of the fourth, Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. and Drake Baldwin worked back-to-back walks to start the inning before Nacho Alvarez singled home Kilpatrick, making it 2-1 Hot Rods. Adam Zebrowski singled to move the runners up before Geraldo Quintero grounded into a double play. While Bowling Green secured two outs on the play, Baldwin would score, tying things up at two apiece. Just four pitches later, Alvarez would score on a balk, giving Rome their first lead of the night.

Daysbel Hernandez would come on to relieve Niekro in the top of the sixth inning and would give up a leadoff home run, allowing Bowling Green to knot things up at 3-3. In the home half of the sixth, Baldwin would take matters into his own hands, as he launched his third homer of the season over the right field fence, giving the Braves a 4-3 lead which would stand through the rest of the game.

Peyton Williams would be called on to slam the door on the win for Rome and despite walking the first two batters in the inning, Williams would proceed to get a forceout and a pair of strikeouts to close the game.

(9-13) Augusta GreenJackets 4, (12-9) Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 1

  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 2-4, 3B, RBI, BB
  • Ethan Workinger, CF: 2-3, RBI, BB
  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 1-3, 3B, BB
  • Seth Keller, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 K
  • Jhancarlos Lara, RP: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K

Box Score

Unlike their Double-A counterparts, it was an all-around good day for Augusta, as they brought home their ninth win of the season on Wednesday.

Kicking things off early at 11 a.m., Seth Keller got the nod for his second start of the year and fourth appearance overall.

The 18-year-old righthander helped pave the way for a successful game for the GreenJacket arms , as he tossed five innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out two. The lone run allowed by Keller came in the bottom of the fourth inning after surrendering back-to-back doubles.

After his five innings Keller has produced stellar numbers thus far. Through 15 innings, he’s produced a miniscule 0.60 ERA with 11 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.73. With AJ Smith-Shawyer getting the bump up to Mississippi, Keller instantly becomes one of the top — if not the top — arms to watch at Augusta.

Giving way to the bullpen, Jhancarlos Lara would come on in relief and continue to build on the start by Keller. Through 3.1 innings, Lara

Much like Keller, Lara has been downright good in his own way to start the year. Through four appearances, the 20-year-old righty owns a 1.59 ERA across 11.1 innings while whiffing 18.

Offensively, it took a while for the GreenJackets to get going. But once they did, they powered their way past the Kannapolis arms, producing four runs in just two innings.

Augusta didn’t get their first hit of the game until Ambioris Tavarez led off the top of the fourth with a single. The first run for the GreenJackets would come two innings later.

Francisco Floyd led off the top of the sixth before Tavarez tripled him home, tying the game up at one apiece. Augusta would tack on two more runs in the inning as Ethan Workinger later singled in Tavarez and Nick Clarno singled home Workinger, making it 3-1 GreenJackets.

In the following frame, Mahki Backstrom tripled to lead things off in the top of the seventh and would later score on a David McCabe sac fly, extending the lead to 4-1 for Augusta which would be the final score.

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