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Braves Minor League recap: AJ Smith-Shawver holds Jacksonville hitless in start for Gwinnett

Both Gwinnett and Mississippi swept their respective games on Friday as the minor league season draws nearer to a close for the year.

AJ Smith-Shawver delivers a pitch for the Augusta GreenJackets Image Credit: CRSA Photography

It was a successful day for the only two Braves minor league affiliates left in action for the season, as Gwinnett and Mississippi came away with wins on the day. Both starters dominated and each offense provided timely hitting on the day so let’s dive in.

(67-73) Gwinnett Stripers 2, (68-73) Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 0

  • Andrew Velazquez, CF: 2-5, R
  • Joe Hudson, C: 1-3, 2B
  • Dalton Guthrie, LF: 1-4, RBI
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 3 IP, BB, 2 K
  • Darius Vines, RP: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K

Box Score

Simply put, AJ Smith-Shawver was brilliant in what was a relatively short start for the right hander. Across just three innings, the Braves’ top prospect didn’t allow a hit, while issuing just one walk and striking out a pair of Jumbo Shrimp to pace the Gwinnett pitching staff on Friday night.

While Smith-Shawver was doing his thing, the Stripers offense was struggling. Through the first four innings, Gwinnett managed just one hit and a pair of walks at the plate. That changed, however, in the top of the fifth inning. With Darius Vines on the mound — who took over for Smith-Shawver in the top of the fourth — the Stripers plated the first run of the game. After Jesus Aguilar and Hoy Park struck out in the first two at-bats of the frame, Joe Hudson doubled to put himself in scoring position. In the next at-bat, Dalton Guthrie singled into center field to plate Hudson and give Gwinnett the 1-0 lead.

As for Vines, while he may have given up four hits and two walks, he was spectacular in his own right. In six scoreless innings, Vines struck out three batters while holding the Jacksonville offense at bay.

Gwinnett tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning. Andrew Velazquez ledoff with a single — his second hit of the game — and later stole second base. After Vaughn Grissom and Joe Dunad walked to load the bases, Braden Shewmake brought Velazquez home on a sac fly to extend the Stripers’ lead to 2-0 on the night.

With Vines dominating in relief, the Jumbo Shrimp failed to produce any offense of note as Gwinnett went on to seal the 2-0 win.

(61-73) Mississippi Braves 5, (77-56) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 4

  • Drew Campbell, RF: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI
  • Luke Waddell, SS: 2-4, RBI, R
  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI
  • Daniel Martinez, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 BB, 7 K

Box Score

Mississippi managed to stave off a late-inning comeback attempt by Pensacola on Friday to take the narrow 5-4 victory over the Blue Wahoos.

Things were relatively quiet through the first four innings as Braves’ starter Daniel Martinez did his part to keep the game close while the offense attempted to get going. Overall on the day, Martinez spun six innings of one-run ball while allowing just two hits, three walks and striking out seven.

Despite not scoring until the fifth inning, the first scoring opportunity for Mississippi came early. In the top of the first inning, Cody Milligan ledoff the game with a single and two batters later, Luke Waddell walked to move him into scoring position.However, Drake Baldwin and Jesse Franklin V struck out to end the frame.

The Braves would finally get on the board in the top of the fifth frame, scoring three times. Milligan singled for his second hit of the game to leadoff the inning and after Cal Conley grounded out to move him to second, Milligan scored on a Luke Waddell line drive single into center field to give Mississippi the 1-0 lead as Waddell advanced to second on the play. Drake Baldwin followed that up with a walk before Franklin V reached on a groundout as Baldwin was retired. Then, Bryson Horne doubled into center field to plate both Waddell and Franklin V to extend the Braves’ lead to 3-0.

Pensacola got on the board in the bottom of the sixth innings, as they tagged Martinez for one run to cut the Mississippi lead to 3-1.

The Braves added much-needed insurance runs later in the game. In the top of the seventh, Cal Conley kicked things off with a walk and later second base. Baldwin then singled to score Conley, making it 4-1 Mississippi.

In the top of the eighth, Javier Valdes ledoff with a double and after Cade Bunnell grounded out, Drew Campbell laced a double of his own into right field, plating Valdes to make it 5-1 Braves.

Reliever Jake McSteen took over for Martinez in the bottom of the seventh inning and tossed a scoreless frame. However, in the home half of the eighth, Pensacola plated three runs — none of which were earned — to cut the Braves lead to 5-4 on the night.

Brooks Wilson was tasked with taking over for McSteen in the eighth to record the final out and managed to do so. In the ninth, he sat down the Blue Wahoos in order to cap the Braves’ win.

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