Tuiasosopo, Howard Send G-Braves to Fourth Straight Win
Duo combines on five RBIs in 5-2 win over Pawtucket
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – The Gwinnett Braves (11-5) extended their winning streak to four games with another strong pitching performance and a productive night from the heart of the order as they defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox (7-9) 5-2 in front of an energetic crowd of 7,837 at Coolray Field on Saturday night.
Making his G-Braves debut, Ryan Howard went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, an RBI, a hit-by-pitch, and an intentional walk. The man behind him in the order, Matt Tuiasosopo, went 2-for-4 to drive in four of Gwinnett’s five runs.
Making his Triple-A debut, G-Braves’ right-hander Enderson Franco got off to an excellent start. He struck out the first two batters he faced on six pitches and retired the first eight batters he faced before issuing a walk with two outs in the third inning.
The G-Braves quickly got their young starter some support in their first turn at the plate. Ozzie Albies led off the game with a single. Three hitters later, Howard came to the plate for his first Gwinnett at-bat with runners on the corners and one out. The longtime Major League veteran delivered, driving a single to center to score Albies with the first run of the game. Tuiasosopo followed with a fielder’s choice ground out to score Mel Rojas Jr. and give Gwinnett a 2-0 lead against Pawtucket starting pitcher Marcus Walden (L, 0-2).
The G-Braves added to the lead in the third as Rojas Jr. started off the frame with a walk. Howard followed with his second hit of the night, another single to center, and Tuiasosopo capped the rally with a single to left, scoring Rojas Jr. to make it 3-0.
With two outs in the fourth, Bryce Brentz got the PawSox on the board with a ground rule double to center field that scored Sam Travis, cutting the Gwinnett lead to 3-1.
In his first career game at the Double-A level or higher, Franco pitched 4.0 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits while walking two and striking out five. He did not earn a decision.
Jason Hursh (W, 2-0) came in for the G-Braves in the fifth and kept the PawSox off the board for two innings before the visitors rallied in the seventh. Junior Lake led off with a double and came around to score on a single from Jantzen Witte, cutting the Gwinnett lead to 3-2. David Peterson replaced Hursh and retired two batters to hold the lead.
Gwinnett quickly put runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh before Howard was given an intentional walk to load the bases. Tuiasosopo made Pawtucket reliever Chandler Shepherd pay by doubling down the right field line to score two more runs, increasing the lead to 5-2.
Peterson worked around a pair of base runners in the eighth before the G-Braves called upon Jason Motte (S, 2) for the save opportunity. In the ninth, Motte struck out the side in order to finish the game.
Rojas Jr., Howard, and Tuiasosopo, the heart of the Gwinnett lineup, combined to go 4-for-8 at the plate while driving in all five Gwinnett runs.
The G-Braves and PawSox conclude the series on Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Left-hander Sean Newcomb (1-1, 5.65) is set to start for Gwinnett, while Pawtucket will counter with right-hander Shawn Haviland (2-1, 3.38). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 12:35 p.m.
As part of Sunday Funday (sponsored by Georgia United Credit Union), fans are invited to play catch on the field before the game at approximately 12:05 p.m. Following the game, kids ages 12 and under are welcome to run the bases. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.