The long-awaited return of Michael Harris II to action began on Wednesday night with a pitstop in Gwinnett for his first career game suiting up with the Stripers.
The Braves two upper minors affiliates notched wins on the day while the lower two fell in what was a somewhat successful day on the farm.
(8-14) Gwinnett Stripers 2, (9-13) Buffalo Bison 1
- Michael Harris II, CF: 1-3, BB
- Braden Shewmake, 2B: 1-4, HR, RBI
- Forrest Wall, LF: 1-4, RBI
- Nolan Kingham, SP: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
After being on the injured list for the better part of a month, Michael Harris II finally made his way back to the playing field on Wednesday.
Kicking off his rehab assignment, Harris led off and started in centerfield for Gwinnett while tallying one hit — an opposite field single — in his return.
With Nolan Kingham on the mound to start for Gwinnett, Buffalo would jump off the scoring first in the second inning via sac fly. That would be the lone blemish in the run column allowed by Gwinnett on the day as the staff put together a successful outing, allowing just four hits total in the win.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Gwinnett tied things up courtesy of a Forrest Wall single which scored Magneuris Sierra. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Braden Shewmake grounded into a double play, before Yolmer Sanchez grounded out to end the inning.
It wouldn’t take long for the Stripers to take their first lead of the game, as in the bottom of the 5th inning, Shewmake would launch a solo shot into right field for his 4th homer of the season and more importantly, the lead.
After Kingham was relieved in the 4th inning, the Stripers bullpen put on a clinic. Grant Holmes, Brian Moran, Joe Harvey and Yacksel Rios tossed six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out five.
(5-11) Mississippi Braves 4, (10-6) Biloxi Shuckers 2
- Cade Bunnell, 3B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
- Jacob Pearson, CF: 2-3, HR, RBI
- Drew Campbell, RF: 3-4
- Tanner Gordon, SP: 5.2 IP, 3 H, BB, 7 K
Playing in one of two day games for Braves affiliates — more on the second one later — Mississippi got back in the win column following a loss on Tuesday.
Tanner Gordon got the start on the bump for the Braves and put up his best start of the young season thus far.
The 25-year-old righthander spun a gem through 5.2 innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven and holding Biloxi scoreless.
While Gordon was wheeling and dealing on the mound, the Mississippi offense gave him some breathing early room.
Just three batters into the game, Cade Bunnell sent an 0-2 pitch over the right field wall for a two-run homer in the top of the 1st inning. Mississippi wouldn’t score again until the top of the 5th, when Jacob Pearson launched the first pitch of the inning over the wall for a solo shot, extending the Braves lead to 3-0. In the very next inning, Mississippi would tack on an additional run thanks to a Hudson Potts groundout which brought home Landon Stephens.
After Gordon tossed 87 pitches — 62 of which were for strikes — and gave way to the bullpen to try and hold the lead.
Hayden Deal would finish off the 6th inning and toss a scoreless 7th in relief while striking out one.
Biloxi got on the board in the bottom of the 8th as they attempted to mount a comeback. Domingo Gonzalez allowed a one-out, two-run single to cut the Mississippi lead in half at 4-2.
However, the Shuckers efforts would be too little, too late as Alec Barger would come in and slam the door in the bottom of the 9th, retiring the Shuckers in order on just four pitches to give Mississippi the 4-2 victory.
As for Barger, the 25-year-old has quietly put together a solid start to the season. Across ten innings, Barger has whiffed 11 batters in six appearances and has yet to allow an earned run.
(6-10) Rome Braves 1, (12-5) Greensboro Grasshoppers 4
- Bryson Horne, 1B: 3-4
- Nacho Alvarez, SS: 1-3, RBI, BB
- Tyler Owens, SP: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1BB, 4 K
Things got off to a rough start for Braves affiliates on Wednesday as Rome fell in the first of the four games on the day.
On the mound, things were relatively solid for the Braves as three arms combined to toss 8 innings, allowing just three earned runs total, an amount that would be more than enough to get the win on most days. However, that was not the case for Rome.
Tyler Owens got the start and tossed three innings of two-hit ball while allowing just one earned run. He also whiffed four batters as well.
Owens gave way to Ryder Jones who took over for one inning, allowing one run on one hit and struck out one Grasshopper while walking a pair.
J.J. Niekro took over in the home half of the 5th inning and continued his impressive start to the season. Across four innings, Niekro allowed just four hits and two runs — only one of which was earned — while striking out four to lower his ERA on the year to 3.24 across 16.2 innings pitched for Rome.
At the plate and defensively is where the Braves really faltered on the day.
In the field, Rome committed two errors, one of which proved costly as Stephen Paolini would boot a ball, allowing a runner to score for Greensboro to extend their lead to 4-1 in the 6th.
Despite almost matching Greensboro’s seven hit total on the day with six of their own, Rome simply could not string together enough offense to make much of a difference.
The lone run of the game came on a bases-loaded walk to Nacho Alvarez, giving the Braves their one and only run in the game.
One of the lone bright spots at the dish was first baseman Bryson Horne who went 3-4.
(5-9) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (9-6) Columbia Fireflies 3
- Jeremy Celedonio, RF: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
- David McCabe, 3B: 1-4, R
- Jhancarlos Lara, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Looking to snap a two-game skid, Augusta went into Wednesday’s game with hopes of turning things around. And things got off to a positive start, albeit short-lived.
In the first inning, David McCabe worked a two-out single and Jeremy Celedonio followed up with a homer — his third on the year — to give Augusta an early 2-0 lead. But those two hits would be the only offense the GreenJackets could muster on the night as they couldn’t solve the Columbia pitching staff at all. By the end of the night, 19 GreenJackets would go down via strikeout.
Jhancarlos Lara made his first start of the season and put together three strong innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out four batters.
Columbia would score all three runs in the top of the 4th, stringing together four hits in the inning while getting a little help from the Augusta defense.
Mahki Backstrom committed an error, allowing the first batter of the inning to reach. The Fireflies then doubled home a run and singled home another to tie the game at two apiece. Columbia would get the third run of the inning on a line drive single, but that’s all they would get as the throw from left fielder Jair Casanova would nail the runner at third to stop the bleeding.
For the rest of the game, offense was scarce amongst both teams as there would be only one more hit registered after the 5th inning by Columbia.
The Augusta bullpen managed to at least keep the GreenJackets in the game and provide a bright spot as Hayden Harris, Seth Keller and Rob Griswold tossed six scoreless innings in the 3-2 loss.