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Braves Minor League Recap: Kyle Muller goes seven in Stripers win

Kyle Muller and Luis Vargas put up strong outings as the Braves system went 5-0 on the day

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

It was a big day on the farm for the Atlanta Braves as the affiliates went 5-0 to complete an organizational sweep. Kyle Muller had a fantastic outing for Gwinnett, while down in Augusta Luis Vargas set his career-high in strikeouts. Cade Bunnell was the offensive star of the day with a home run and four walks in Mississippi’s walk-off win.

(39-42) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (30-51) Charlotte Knights 2

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 2-4, .250/.305/.400
  • Braden Shewmake, 2B: 1-2, BB, RBI, .273/.331/.400
  • Preston Tucker, DH: 1-3, HR, .249/.332/.406
  • Kyle Muller, SP: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 2.95 ERA

(40-42) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (30-52) Charlotte Knights 0

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-3, BB, .251/.308/.399
  • Braden Shewmake, 2B: 0-3, .269/.327/.395
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 1-2, 2B, BB, .226/.324/.409
  • Connor Johnstone, SP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.12 ERA
  • Jacob Webb, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.12 ERA

The Stripers kicked off Friday’s action with a sweep of their double header against the Knights. Game one was the contest that brought the excitement as both teams traded runs and the lead in a tight battle. Preston Tucker put the Stripers on top in the second inning with a solo home run, and for the first half of the game Kyle Muller’s dominance was enough to hold that. Muller started his outing by striking out the side in order in the first inning and faced only one batter over the minimum through four innings. Muller slipped up in the fifth inning after a lead off single, allowing a go ahead two run home run that accounted for the only runs he allowed in the game. Muller allowed four of the six Knights hits in the fifth inning and otherwise only allowed two baserunners and retired the final seven batters he faced. Gwinnett’s bats had Muller’s back in the bottom of the fifth inning and three straight singles loaded the bases and brought Braden Shewmake to the plate. Shewmake took a hit by pitch, forcing home a run to tie the game, though Gwinnett did not manage to plate anyone else and took that tie into the final inning. With two outs in the seventh inning Drew Waters laced a single up the middle and then stole second base to put himself in scoring position for the winning run. That stolen base ended up not mattering a whole lot, as the next three batters were walked with Travis Demeritte drawing one to force the winning run home.

Game two was yet another pitching battle with Gwinnett’s bullpen shutting down the Knights completely. Connor Johnstone was the unsurprising choice to make the start and he retired all six batters he faced on just 19 pitches. Jay Jackson kept the streak going by retiring the side in order in the third inning, which was his sole inning of work. Michael Tonkin was the only Stripers reliever to allow a hit in the game with one each in the fourth and fifth innings. Tonkin got in quite a pickle in that fifth inning, walking two batters before a bunt single loaded the bases and ended his outing. Silvino Bracho put out that fire with a strikeout then pitched a scoreless sixth inning with another strikeout. This is where the Stripers offense finally comes into play in this one, with a leadoff double from Travis Demeritte sparking the winning rally. Ryan Casteel’s two run single with two outs broke a scoreless tie and Ryan Goins followed Casteel with a double that put another insurance run on the board. Jacob Webb closed out the game in the seventh inning, striking out two batters to put the exclamation point on the sweep.

Next Game: 7/9 vs (30-52) Charlotte Knights @ 6:05 PM ET

(36-43) Mississippi Braves 6, (38-36) Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Box Score

  • CJ Alexander, 3B: 3-4, BB, RBI, .252/.289/.458
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-5, HR, 3 RBI, .231/.346/.484
  • Cade Bunnell, 2B: 1-1, HR, 4 BB, .371/.522/.686
  • Darius Vines, SP: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, 4.94 ERA
  • Odalvi Javier, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.72 ERA

Mississippi fought back late in this game and gave us our second walk off of the day. Both offenses were held tight for the first half of this game, but Mississippi was able to take advantage of walks in the third inning when CJ Alexander ripped an RBI single to give them the lead. Unfortunately for the second time in three innings the Braves stranded two runners on base with no outs and after six innings found themselves with just that one run and a 3-1 deficit. Finally they broke through again in the seventh inning when Cade Bunnell hit a solo home run in the one plate appearance he didn’t draw a walk during to cut the deficit in half. Alexander followed with an infield single and after stealing second base and advancing on a wild pitch was able to score on a single from Yariel Gonzalez. Bunnell and Alexander were again in the mix in the bottom of the ninth inning when both drew walks to lead off the inning. This time the Braves were not going to strand any runners as Drew Lugbauer crushed his 17th home run of the season to walk the game off.

Darius Vines once again put up dominant numbers in the early parts of this game, but he got burned late as the sixth inning snowballed. Vines was in complete command through the fourth inning as he retired the first 12 batters he faced in the game and struck out eight of those batters. A leadoff single and a walk in the fifth inning showed the first signs of struggle for Vines, but he got the benefit of a caught stealing and was able to escape the inning with no damage and another strikeout. Vines once again allowed a leadoff single and a walk in the sixth inning and once again got a caught stealing for the first out, but this time he was unable to limit the damage to just that. Vines allowed three runs in the inning and was not able to escape before being pulled for Jake Higginbotham. Higginbotham gave Mississippi 1 13 innings of scoreless relief work, while Odalvi Javier and Justin Maese each contributed one innings to the win.

Next Game: 7/9 vs (37-33) Pensacola Blue Wahoos @ 7:05 PM ET

(45-34) Rome Braves 11, (31-46) Asheville Tourists 5

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-4, .308/.397/.483
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, LF: 2-4, BB, .300/.402/.475
  • Landon Stephens, 1B: 3-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .244/.376/.504
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 4.14 ERA
  • Alec Barger, RP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4.13 ERA

Rome kept up their winning ways by notching their fifth straight and scoring 11 runs despite 16 strikeouts. The Braves compacted all of those runs into four innings, starting with the breakout inning in the fourth. Landon Stephens and Drew Campbell started out the inning with base hits before an error brought home a run to tie the game at 1-1. Beau Philip then followed with a three run home run to put the Braves on top where they would remain for the rest of the game. Their next big hit came from the bat of Christian Robinson, who drove in two runs in the fifth inning on a two out single that scored Stephens and Justyn-Henry Malloy. Campbell’s bases loaded single in the sixth inning drove in two more to put the game mostly out of reach at 8-2. Again in the seventh inning Rome was able to load the bases, and Landon Stephens ripped a ground-rule double to make it an even 10 runs scored in the game. A wild pitch brought in the final run and extended the lead out to 11-2. An interesting not defensively for this game is Justyn-Henry Malloy’s position as this is his first career start in left field and given his defensive struggles at third base this may end up being his long term home.

Luis De Avila did not throw a no hitter this time out, but he was able to limit damage at key times to hold Asheville to two runs on seven hits and four walks. It was not an a-game outing from the offset, with the first pitch of the game going for a base hit and the third batter of the game doubling in the first run. Asheville put the leadoff hitter on base for each of the next three innings, but De Avila kept escaping trouble with the help of two inning-ending double plays and a pick off play. In the fifth inning Asheville finally trickled another run through, getting the leadoff man on via walk and scoring him on an RBI single to make the score 4-2. At the very last moment De Avila had his inning, as he struck out the side in order in the sixth inning. The only big inning the Tourists managed was off of Jake McSteen in the eighth inning as he allowed three earned runs on three hits and a walk before being pulled from the game for Alec Barger. Barger closed out the game with three strikeouts in 1 13 scoreless innings.

Next Game: 7/4 vs (31-42) Asheville Tourists @ 6:00 PM ET

(39-40) Augusta GreenJackets 6, (52-37) Columbia Fireflies 2

Box Score

  • Brandol Mezquita, CF: 0-3, 2 BB, .296/.377/.400
  • Geraldo Quintero, 3B: 0-3, 2 BB, .261/.352/.437
  • Brandon Parker, LF: 4-5, HR, 3 RBI, .276/.405/.468
  • Luis Vargas, SP: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 3.90 ERA
  • Tyler Owens, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4.58 ERA

Augusta rode one huge offensive inning to complete our system sweep. The GreenJackets were held down in a big way early in this contest, recording only one hit through four innings. Braulio Vasquez bunted for a hit in the fifth and this seemed to wake things up a bit as he was able to steal second base and score on a go-ahead single from Eliezel Stevens. The explosion came in the sixth inning, as following two walks to the first two batters Brandon Parker crushed a three run home run that broke the game open. Kadon Morton and Connor Blair both reached base following this and RBI singles from Vasquez and Stevens extended the lead to 6-0. Augusta loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning, but after two strikeouts and a fly out ended that scoring chance the offense didn’t do much as they cruised to a win.

Luis Vargas was the star of the game, and arguably the system, as he racked up a career-high ten strikeouts to lead the GreenJackets to a win. Vargas allowed the first hitter of the game to record a single, but after a strikeout and a double play he locked down the game. Vargas struck out the side in the second inning, then did the same in the fifth inning as part of 14 consecutive batters retired. After that big offensive inning Vargas came back out perhaps a bit cool and allowed two hits, two walks, and a run before being pulled from the game with two outs in the sixth inning. The bullpen did not dominate the strikeout column the way Vargas did, but Tyler Owens was able to contribute two scoreless innings of relief with only one hit allowed. Rob Griswold struggled in the ninth inning and allowed a run on two hits and a walk but easily closed out the Augusta win.

Next Game: 7/9 @ (38-37) Charleston Riverdogs @ 6:05 PM ET

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