Aaron Blair, three relievers combine on four-hitter as Gwinnett wins finale
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Behind another strong pitching performance, this time by Aaron Blair and three relievers, the Gwinnett Braves (32-30) beat the Charlotte Knights (27-34) 5-0 on Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field.
Blair (W, 4-3) tossed 6.1 scoreless innings to earn his fourth win of the year, giving up just four singles and two walks while striking out five in his longest outing of the season. Offensively, Carlos Franco led the way for the G-Braves with a 3-for-4 game including three singles and three RBIs as the G-Braves took three of four from the Knights.
After taking the lead late last night, the G-Braves wasted little time taking the lead on Sunday. In the bottom of the first inning, Jace Peterson and Sean Kazmar Jr. led off with walks against rehabbing Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon (L, 0-1), pitching on a rehab assignment for Charlotte. With one out and runners on the corners, Matt Tuiasosopo put Gwinnett in front with a single to center, scoring Peterson with the game’s first run.
Blair got into trouble in the third as the Knights loaded the bases with one out and cleanup hitter Danny Hayes coming to the plate. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Blair hit the inside corner with a fastball to strike out Hayes for the second out. He then induced a foul pop up from Rymer Liriano to get through the inning unscathed.
In the third, Gwinnett extended the lead against Rodon. Singles from Kazmar Jr. and Dustin Peterson and a walk to Tuiasosopo loaded the bases with nobody out. Franco cashed in with a two-run single to center to increase the lead to 3-0.Anthony Recker capped the inning’s scoring with a double play ground out to score Tuiasosopo as the G-Braves led 4-0 after three innings.
The four runs proved to be more than enough for Blair. After issuing a walk to Cody Asche in the third inning that loaded the bases, Blair was nearly unhittable. Between the third and sixth innings, he retired 11 straight hitters to keep the G-Braves in front 4-0.
Ronald Bueno snapped the streak with a leadoff single in the seventh. Another single from Everth Cabrera with one out put runners on the corners, ending Blair’s afternoon. Evan Phillips came out of the Gwinnett bullpen and struck out Jose Vinicio and Yoan Moncada to end the inning.
Gwinnett added a run in the bottom of the seventh as Franco’s third single of the day scored Tuiasosopo, who doubled earlier in the inning off Charlotte reliever Chris Volstad.
G-Braves relievers Akeel Morris and Enrique Burgos each pitched scoreless innings to finish off the G-Braves’ second straight shutout and fifth of the season. With the shutout, the G-Braves haven’t allowed a run since the sixth inning on Friday night, a span of 21 innings.
For Gwinnett, Kazmar, Tuiasosopo, and Franco all recorded multi-hit games while Tuiasosopo scored twice in the win.
Four different Knights recorded singles as they were held without an extra-base hit for the second straight game.
On Tuesday, the G-Braves begin a six-game road trip with a three-game series against the Toledo Mud Hens. Patrick Weigel(2-1, 4.40) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett in the first game while Toledo has yet to officially name a starter. First pitch at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, OH is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m.
The G-Braves return home on Monday, June 19 to begin a seven-game homestand against the Charlotte Knights and Norfolk Tides. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.