G-Braves erase early 6-1 defect, but fall in 11 innings
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – In a game that started as a slugfest and ended as a bullpen battle, the Norfolk Tides (32-44) got the late run to defeat the Gwinnett Braves (38-36) 9-8 in 11 innings on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series at Coolray Field.
The two teams combined for 16 runs over the first four innings as Gwinnett erased an early 6-1 deficit to tie the game at 8-8. After the game remained scoreless for six innings, Norfolk plated the winning run in the top of the 11th to prevent a G-Braves’ sweep.
Gwinnett starter Kris Medlen got off to a rocky start as the Tides scored four runs in the opening inning, capped by David Washington’s two-run homer. After the G-Braves got a run back in the bottom of the first, Norfolk added two more runs off Medlen in the second to take a 6-1 lead. That would be all for Medlen, who gave up six earned runs on six hits over 2.0 innings.
In the bottom of the third, the G-Braves rallied against Norfolk starter Chris Lee to cut the deficit to two. An RBI single from Matt Tuiasosopo scored Dustin Peterson with the first run of the inning. Three hitters later, Rio Ruiz scored on an error from Lee and Emerson Landoni’s fielder’s choice ground out scored Tuiasosopo to cut the Tides’ lead to 6-4.
Pedro Alvarez increased the Norfolk advantage to 8-4 with a two-run home run off Gwinnett reliever Akeel Morris in the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, the G-Braves finally got even. After a walk to Peterson and a single from Ruiz, Tuiasosopo hit a three-run home run into the Tides’ bullpen in right field, his team-leading seventh of the season, to make it a one-run game.Carlos Franco followed with a solo home run to left-center field, his third with Gwinnett, to tie the game at 8-8. That would prove to be the end of Lee’s start, as he gave up eight runs – seven earned – on nine hits over 3.1 innings.
The consecutive blasts by Tuiasosopo and Franco marked the third time the G-Braves have hit back-to-back homers this season, and the second straight game it has happened. On Saturday night, Ozzie Albies and Xavier Avery accomplished the feat in the second inning.
After Franco’s home run, the game turned into a battle of the bullpens. For Gwinnett, two scoreless relief innings from Evan Phillips, one from David Peterson, and two more from Rex Brothers sent the game to extra innings.
Rhiner Cruz tossed a quick top of the 10th and Richard Rodriguez worked around a pair of Gwinnett base runners in the bottom of the 10th to send the game to the 11th inning.
In the 11th, the Tides took the lead on Mike Yastrzemski’s single off Cruz that plated pinch-runner Chris Dickerson. Rodriguez returned to the mound for Norfolk in the bottom of the inning and pitched a scoreless frame to finish off the win as the Tides salvaged the finale of the series.
Tuiasosopo led the way for the G-Braves, going 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. Franco went 2-for-6 with a double, homer and an RBI, and Peterson went 2-for-5 with a triple and three runs scored. Albies went 0-for-5 but drew a walk to extend his team-best on-base streak to 23 games.
For Norfolk, Alvarez went 3-for-6 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs, while Washington went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Three Tides’ relievers combined to pitch 7.2 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed.
The G-Braves open an eight-game road trip on Monday night in Toledo, OH with game one of a four-game series vs. the Toledo Mud Hens. Gwinnett will start right-hander Lucas Sims (5-3, 3.94) in the opener, first pitch 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 Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field on Tuesday, July 4 to begin a six-game homestand. Game one of a three-game series vs. Norfolk begins at 7:05 p.m. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.