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Braves MILB Recap: Landon Stephens homers twice for Rome

Landon Stephens homered twice for Rome while Mahki Backstrom hit one for Augusta and Michael Harris continued to shine for Mississippi.

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

Thursday saw Landon Stephens with a two homer game, a Mahki Backstrom homer in a game that was suspended, three doubles during a doubleheader out of Drew Waters, and Michael Harris continuing to do top prospect things in Double A. We also got to see strong games from Darius Vines and Huascar Ynoa, plus another great relief outing from Victor Vodnik.

Gwinnett Stripers 4, Norfolk Tides 1

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-4, R, 2B, .743 OPS
  • RJ Alaniz, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 3.06 ERA
  • Jesus Cruz, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2.84 ERA

Four Gwinnett pitchers turned in a strong performance in Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader. The start went to Nolan Kingham, who allowed the lone run on a hit and two walks over three innings. He was followed by RJ Alaniz, who went two innings and gave up just one hit while striking out four. Seth Elledge was next and he didn’t allow anyone to reach during his inning and struck out two. Finally Jesus Cruz finished it off by striking out the side in order to get the save. The four guys combined to allow just one run on two hits and two walks as they struck out nine Norfolk hitters in seven innings.

The star of the offense may have been Phil Gosselin, who went 2-for-3 with a double, run, RBI, and a walk, or it could have been Hernan Perez, who doubled and picked up two RBI in the game. Either way those two guys led the way for the Gwinnett offense to victory in the first part of the doubleheader. Drew Waters doubled and scored while Braden Shewmake was 1-for-4 in the win.

Gwinnett Stripers 3, Norfolk Tides 2

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 2-3, R, 2 2B, .810 OPS
  • Greyson Jenista, RF: 1-3, R, RBI, HR, .812 OPS
  • Huascar Ynoa, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.64 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA

Huascar Ynoa got the start in the second game and pitched very well going five innings while giving up two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out six. He was followed by an inning apiece from Nick Vincent and Victor Vodnik, who combined to allow just one hit and no runs while striking out three to preserve the win.

Drew Waters had two more doubles in Game 2. Greyson Jenista and Chadwick Tromp both homered in the win.

Mississippi Braves 13, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 9

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 2-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB, .871 OPS
  • Andrew Moritz, LF: 2-4, 3 R, RBI, BB, 2 2B, .610 OPS
  • Jalen Miller, DH: 2-5, R, 3 RBI, BB, HR, .896 OPS
  • Darius Vines, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 4.27 ERA

If you just look at the score you might think that Mississippi had a rough night on the mound, but that wasn’t the case overall. Darius Vines started and pitched a solid game, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk with eight strikeouts over five innings. Then Troy Bacon followed with two shutout innings, followed by another from Jake Higginbotham. Yes, going into the ninth Mississippi had given up just two runs all game, but Tyler Ferguson melted down and gave up seven runs in the ninth, while only recording one out. Luckily, Justin Yeager was able to get the final two outs and the Braves were able to hold on.

Mississippi saw everyone get into the action with at least one hit during this 13-run outburst. Michael Harris went 2-for-4 with a walk, run scored, stolen base, and knocked in two runs as he continues to prove he is among the top prospects in the game. Andrew Moritz doubled twice and scored three runs while Jalen Miller had two hits, including a homer, and drove in three.

Hudson Valley Renegades 8, Rome Braves 5

Box Score

  • Landon Stephens, LF: 2-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR, .987 OPS
  • Cody Milligan, 2B: 2-3, R, 2 BB, .910 OPS
  • Dylan Dodd, SP: 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4.56 ERA

The lone loss in the system on Thursday came from Rome as it was a tough night for Dylan Dodd. Dodd allowed five runs, though only three were earned, on 10 hits over five innings of work, and each of the three relievers who followed him would allow an additional run to score. That list included Ben Dum, Jake McSteen, and Austin Smith.

The highlight of the night for Rome was Landon Stephens, who homered twice and drove in four runs. With this pair of homers, Stephens is up to 13 on the season and has his OPS back up close to 1.000 again. Cody Milligan reached base four times with a pair of singles and two walks.

Augusta GreenJackets vs Myrtle Beach Pelicans- suspended

Box Score

Augusta and Myrtle Beach was suspended in the bottom of the fifth with Myrtle Beach leading 6-2. The game will be continued on Friday. Mahki Backstrom had a two-run home run for the GreenJackets. Starter Kris Anglin failed to make it out of the first, retiring just two hitters while giving up four runs including a pair of home runs.