Xavier Avery homers twice, plates four in Durham
DURHAM, NC – A two-homer, four-RBI night by Xavier Avery backed 5.0 scoreless innings from Josh Collmenter as the Gwinnett Braves (64-62) defeated the Durham Bulls (77-50) 9-0 in the opener of the four-game series on Monday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With the win, Gwinnett held Durham’s magic number to clinch the International League South Division title at four.
Avery went 2-for-5 with a solo shot to left in the sixth inning off Chih-Wei Hu and a three-run blast to right in the ninth inning off Jaime Schultz. His second multi-homer game of the year raised his season total to 13, which is a new career-high.
Rio Ruiz also homered, belting his team-leading 15th of the year to right field off Burch Smith to give the G-Braves a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Micah Johnson made it 2-0 with an RBI single off Smith in the fourth. Avery’s first homer raised the lead to 3-0 in the sixth, and Gwinnett broke it open with three runs in the seventh on three hits and two Durham errors. Kyle Kubitza and Ronald Acuna each added runs with singles, with Acuna extending his hitting streak to nine games in the process.
Avery’s second clout increased the advantage to 9-0, which was more than plenty for a stifling Gwinnett pitching staff.
Collmenter (W, 1-0) scattered three hits and a walk over 5.0 scoreless innings, striking out four for his first win as a G-Brave. Relievers Jason Hursh (H, 4), Rhiner Cruz, A.J. Minter and Evan Phillips all followed with scoreless innings to finish off Gwinnett’s 10th shutout of the season.
Smith (L, 0-1) yielded just two runs on three hits over 5.0 innings in his Bulls’ debut, striking out eight. The Durham bullpen struggled, however, as four relievers combined to allow seven runs over 4.0 innings.
In addition to the two-hit night for Avery, Kubitza and Sean Kazmar Jr. each had two hits for the G-Braves.
Shane Peterson, Johnny Field and Kean Wong all went 2-for-4 in the loss for the Bulls.
The G-Braves and Bulls play game two of the four-game series on Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Gwinnett will start right-hander Aaron Blair (7-7, 4.59 ERA), while Durham will counter with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (13-6, 3.26 ERA). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM “The Other Side of the River.”
The G-Braves are back home on Friday, August 25 for a doubleheader to begin a four-game series against the Charlotte Knights. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.