Avery, Swanson, Ruiz all homer in 9-2 victory
CHARLOTTE, NC – On the strength of a 10-hit, three-homer attack, the Gwinnett Braves (55-57) pounded the Charlotte Knights (46-67) 9-2 on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series at BB&T Ballpark.
Xavier Avery, Dansby Swanson and Rio Ruiz all homered, helping the G-Braves win the series 2-1. Gwinnett won eight of the 14 games played in Charlotte this season.
The Gwinnett offense began immediately as Avery, the second batter of the game, cracked a one-out solo homer to left off Charlotte starter Reynaldo Lopez. Avery’s 10th blast of the season traveled 423 feet and gave the G-Braves a 1-0 lead.
The Knights tied the game in the bottom of the first inning as the first three batters in the lineup reached base against Gwinnett starter Aaron Blair. However, Blair got out of the jam with minimal damage as the only run of the inning scored when Rymer Liriano hit into a force play at second base with the bases loaded.
Charlotte took a brief 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second as Jake Peter led off with a double, moved to second on a single by Ronald Bueno and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Eddy Alvarez.
The G-Braves stormed right back with a three-run top of the third. Swanson drilled a two-run homer 394 feet to left for his first career Triple-A clout, giving Gwinnett a 3-2 lead. The next batter, Ruiz, followed with his team-leading 11th homer to make it 4-2.
In the top of the fifth, Micah Johnson singled to center off reliever Mark Lowe with one out, and scored all the way from first on Matt Tuiasosopo’s line drive double off the wall in left for a 5-2 lead.
The G-Braves put the finishing touches on the win with a four-run top of the ninth. Knights’ reliever Brandon Brennan walked Ruiz with the bases loaded, and Dustin Peterson followed with a two-run single to left. Sean Kazmar Jr. capped off the scoring with an RBI single to left-center for a 9-2 final.
Blair (W, 7-6) turned in a quality start of 6.2 innings with six hits, two earned runs, three walks and six strikeouts. A.J. Minter (H, 2) pitched a third of an inning with two walks. Atlanta Braves’ reliever Dan Winkler(H, 1), pitching on a rehab assignment, worked 1.0 inning with two strikeouts. Enrique Burgos pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth with two strikeouts.
Lopez (L, 6-7) tossed 5.0 innings with four hits, four earned runs, four walks and nine strikeouts. Lowe pitched 1.1 innings with two hits, one earned run and one strikeout. Bryan Clark worked 1.2 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. Brennan went 1.0 inning with four hits, four earned runs, two walks and one strikeout.
At the plate, Ronald Acuna ran his hitting streak to six games with a 2-for-4 night including two runs scored. Swanson was 2-for-3 with the homer, two runs scored and two RBIs. Ruiz and Peterson both added two RBIs.
For Charlotte, Danny Hayes was 2-for-3 with a double and Jacob May was 2-for-5 with a run scored.
The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field on Monday to begin a seven-game homestand. The opener of a three-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is set for Monday night at 7:05 p.m. Gwinnett will start right-hander Kris Medlen (1-4, 5.68 ERA), while Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will counter with right-hander Bryan Mitchell (2-3, 3.44 ERA). Air time is 6:35 p.m. with Tony Schiavone on 97.7 FM “The Other Side of the River.”