The big-league Braves notched a series win over the Brewers on Saturday, although things were a bit crazy down on the farm. We had another doubleheader at the Single-A level, which in Game 2 wound up going into extra innings.
Let’s get to it…
AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (8-3)
W, 11-1 vs. Louisville
- SP, K. Muller – 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 6 K, HR
- SS, O. Arcia – 3 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI
- 2B, R. Goins – 2 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI
With the 5th and 6th innings featuring zeroes for both clubs, and both teams tied at one, it looked as if this would be a battle of the bullpens in the latter half of the game. However, in the 7th, following back-to-back walks by Sean Kazmar and Drew Waters, plus a single by Riley Unroe to load the bases, pinch-hitter Ryan Casteel opened up the scoring with a bases-clearing double to put Gwinnett up 4-1…
Ryan Casteel pinch hits and knocks in three with this double down the line.
Stripers – 4. Bats – 1. Bottom 7. pic.twitter.com/YwdJyRxifm
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 16, 2021
The Stripers weren’t done, though, as two batters later, Ryan Goins knocked in Casteel from second with yet another two-bagger.
Gwinnett’s bullpen pitched around a double in Louisville’s half of the 8th, and then things got out of hand as the Stripers put up six runs in the bottom half of the inning. First, a wild pitch scored Waters, then an RBI single by Goins added another run, and then, as if he felt left out, Orlando Arcia slapped himself a double, pushing across two runs to make it 10-1.
Orlando Arcia stays hot as the combination of wild pitches, walks, and this two-RBI double gives the Stripers a commanding 10-1 lead heading into the ninth. pic.twitter.com/wbSwrHBlxV
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 16, 2021
As the 11th Gwinnett batter came to the plate in the 8th, Waters added the team’s 11th run with an RBI single to center — a much-needed hit for the prospect outfielder, who’s hitting just .212 so far this season.
Lefty Kyle Muller did exactly what he needed to do in his start on Saturday, bouncing back nicely from his two previous outings, which had featured a combined nine earned runs allowed (three homers) in his last seven innings pitched. The 23-year-old Muller wasn’t perfect as he walked three, but he did a much better job of keeping the ball on the ground in this one (even despite allowing a solo homer), getting four ground-ball outs to go with his six punchouts.
The trio of Dylan Lee, Chasen Bradford, and Trevor Kelley all combined for six strikeouts through five scoreless frames. Bradford’s 7th and 8th innings of work earned him his first win of the season.
AA – Mississippi Braves (4-7)
L, 1-0 vs. Biloxi
- SP, M. Withrow – 3 IP, 3 BB, 3 K
- RP, B. Wilson – 2 IP, H, 4 K
Biloxi tossed a combined no-hitter versus Mississippi on Saturday, using four different pitchers to accomplish the feat. Although the Shuckers weren’t necessarily hitting the ball all over the place either as they only tallied three hits as a team.
Making his third start of the season, 27-year-old righty Matt Withrow was once again kept on a rather short leash on Saturday versus Biloxi. The minor league veteran entered last night’s outing, having only logged a combined six innings in his previous two starts, and he was surprisingly removed from this one after just 55 pitches, despite three hitless frames.
End 3 | M-Braves 0, Biloxi 0
We have a pitcher's duel in Biloxi between @MattWithrow35 and Ethan Small. Already 3 K's for Withrow! pic.twitter.com/MdHhAQFfFD
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 16, 2021
Luis Mora, Brooks Wilson, and Brandon White finished the game, with Mora getting tagged with the loss.
A+ – Rome Braves (6-5)
L, 6-5 (10 inn.) vs. Greensboro
- SP, B. Elder – 3 ⅔ IP, 4 H, ER, 4 BB, 6 K
- 3B, K. Josephina – 1 for 4, HR (GS), 4 RBI
- 2B, R. Delgado – 1 for 4, HR, RBI
Rome’s lineup had the unfortunate task of facing Greensboro’s left-handed starter Omar Cruz, who was absolutely dominant in his start on Saturday, tossing four no-hit innings and striking out 10. The Grasshoppers scored four unanswered runs before Rome finally tallied its first hit of the ball game in the 6th inning, a solo-homer by Riley Delgado. Although, Greensboro extended its lead to 5-1 in the bottom half of the inning with a homer of its own.
But the R-Braves evidently had a comeback in them. Still down 5-1 in the 9th, the trio of Rusber Estrada, Garrison Schwartz, and Beau Philip all reached base to begin the frame, which allowed Kevin Josephina to slug a grand-slam to tie the game.
Rome and Greensboro entered extras. Following two-straight groundouts, a hit-by-pitch, and a strikeout by the R-Braves in the top of the 10th, the Grasshoppers wound up with bases loaded with no outs in the bottom half of the inning and walked it off with a measly ground ball to shortstop.
The Braves fifth-round pick last year, 21-year-old righty Bryce Elder took the mound last night for his third start of the season, having had mixed results thus far in 2021 (one poor start and one good one). In this one, Elder was a bit wild, needing 75 pitches to get through 3 ⅔ innings, but the good news was that all of the damage done against him came in the form of either a walk or a single, allowing Elder to manage just one earned run, to go with six strikeouts.
A – Augusta GreenJackets (5-6)
GM 1: L, 5-1 vs. Myrtle Beach
GM 2: W, 2-1 (8 inn.) vs. Myrtle Beach
GAME 1 / BOX SCORE
- SP, C. Bryant – (L), IP, 3 H, 3 R, BB
- 3B, B. Vasquez – 2 for 3, RBI, SB
- RF, W. Carter – 2 for 3, R
The Pelicans starter in Game 1, 20-year-old Manuel Espinoza, kept the Grasshoppers bats quiet on Saturday as five singles was all the righty would allow during his five-inning start, an outing that required only 75 pitches for the Mexican hurler. Augusta finally broke through with a run in the 4th when, following back-to-back singles by Willie Carter and Ricardo Rodriguez, Braulio Vasquez shot a grounder to right to score Carter.
While Myrtle Beach’s Espinoza was a pain for Augusta for five innings, the GreenJackets Chad Bryant wasn’t as fortunate on Saturday, lasting just one inning. I only saw the final three outs of Game 1, so I’m not sure if Bryant was hurt or just on a real short leash, but his 30-pitch 1st inning was a mess, at least according to the play log. Bryant allowed a single to start the game, but the base runner advanced to second on an error then scored off a single in the next at-bat. A walk and another RBI single allowed eight Pelicans batters to come to the plate in the opening inning.
Estarlin Rodriguez and James Acuna (no relation to Ronald) finished the game, with the former allowing two unearned runs from one hit in 3 ⅔ innings and the latter working 1 ⅓ hitless frames.
GAME 2 / BOX SCORE
- SP, J. Estes – 4 ⅓ IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K
- 1B, L. Stephens – 1 for 3, 2B, RBI
- RP, J. Yeager – (W), 2 IP, 4 K
Augusta and Myrtle Beach needed an extra inning to resolve Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader, and it was a rather uneventful one as both teams combined for just six hits.
Down 1-0 entering the 7th and final frame of regulation, the GreenJackets started a rally when Javier Valdes singled, and Braulio Vasquez got hit by a pitch. A walk by Cody Birdsong two batters later loaded the bases, and then another walk, this time by Stephen Paolini, pushed across Augusta’s first run of the game and tied things at one.
After nothing for the Pelicans in their half of the 7th, the game went into extras. Cam Shepherd started as the base runner on second base for the GreenJackets, as part of the extra-inning rule, and he quickly took advantage by stealing third. Willie Carter couldn’t push him in as he struck out, but Landon Stephens became the hero for Augusta when he doubled home Shepherd for the go-ahead RBI and the eventual win.
Joey Estes — just 19-years-old — was sharp in his start in Saturday’s Game 2, needing just 62 pitches to get through 4 ⅓ innings of two-hit ball. Estes’ first two frames featured only the minimum, and up until the 5th, his only blemish was a single in the 3rd. A double in the 5th ended his day.
Benjamin Dum and Justin Yeager finished up the game, though it was the latter reliever that picked up the win. Yeager was clutch for the GreenJackets as he went through the Pelicans lineup in the 7th and 8th without allowing a single hit and struck out four. The 23-year-old righty has now completed his first eight innings of the season without allowing a run.
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