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Mississippi’s Michael Harris nearly hits for cycle, while Rome’s offense breaks out

It was another great night for minor league baseball on Wednesday night. At the last minute yesterday evening I decided to head over to Toyota Field to watch the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels Double-A affiliate) take on the Pensacola Wahoos, hoping they could at least get most of the game in before the storms came. The two teams were able to get in seven, just in time for Rocket City to come back and tie the game at three in the fifth inning.

Anyways, enough about non-Braves baseball. Here are your scores and recaps from last night’s games. Lots of solid pitching on Wednesday…

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (4-4)

L, 7-5 vs. Nashville

(P) Allan Winans – 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K

(C) William Contreras – 1 for 4, 2B, 3 RBI

(RF) Travis Demeritte – 1 for 3, RBI, R, BB

Allan Winans made his second start of the season for Gwinnett on Wednesday. And despite tossing another respectable outing, featuring 4 2/3 scoreless innings and just two hits allowed, the Stripers bullpen gave it all away. Leading 5-0 in the eighth, reliever Brandon Brennan gave up seven runs, as eight of the first Nashville batters reached base. It’s insane. How does a team spoil a five-run lead in the eighth? Brennan allowed four singles, a double. a triple and a home run during that inning. All he could manage was just two outs, before being replaced by R.J. Alaniz. Yikes.

The Stripers offense on Wednesday was led by former prospect catcher, William Contreras, who knocked in three runs in the game. The kid needed those knocks too, as he’s hitting just .125 this season, entering Thursday.

Travis Demeritte stays hot, for he has now recorded a hit in five-straight, including seven of eight games to start 2022. Greyson Jenista kept the hot bat going as well, finishing last night with two singles.

Just a terrible implosion by Gwinnett’s bullpen. Although I have to say, righty Nolan Kingham (who pitched before Brennan) was great. Kingham worked 2 1/3 hitless innings and struck out three.

AA – Mississippi Braves (1-4)

L, 3-2 vs. Biloxi

(P) Freddy Tarnok – 4 2/3 IP, H, 3 BB, 4 K

(CF) Michael Harris II – 3 for 4, 3B, 2B, R, SB

(SS) Luke Waddell – 1 for 4, RBI

The M-Braves losing continues, but you have to give the team some credit for Wednesday’s effort. Prospect starting pitcher Freddy Tarnok worked a fine season-opening outing for Mississippi last night, allowing just a measly single after carrying a no-no into the fourth. The right-handed Tarnok set down the first seven Biloxi batters he faced in the start, and when he was replaced by Troy Bacon in the fifth, he walked off the mound with a 1-0 lead. However, Bacon, Tyler Ferguson and prospect Indigo Diaz all each surrendered a run in their respective appearances (including 4 walks for Diaz), ultimately allowing the Shuckers to win.

Mississippi’s Jacob Pearson gave the team the early 1-0 lead in the second, when he singled in Logan Brown. And following a lead-off single by prospect Michael Harris II in the eighth, Luke Waddell gave the M-Braves its second run when he barreled a line drive to right to score Harris, putting Mississippi up 2-1.

But Biloxi tallied an RBI double in the bottom-half of the eighth to tie it again. And then in the final inning, versus Mississippi’s Diaz, the Shuckers walked it off in the worst possible way: a bases loaded walk that scored the game-winning run. Yuck.

On a positive note, Tarnok looked sharp at least, throwing 50 of 75 pitches for a strike last night. Plus, Harris nearly hit for the cycle, coming just a home run short of accomplishing the feat. For the season so far, Harris is hitting .313, and entering Thursday he’s currently in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.

A+ – Rome Braves (3-2)

W, 8-1 vs. Hudson Valley

(P) Roddery Munoz – 3 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K

(LF) Landon Stephens – 2 for 4, HR, 3 RBI

(DH) Vaughn Grissom – 3 for 5, 2B, RBI, R

There were so many highlights in this one, as Rome’s offense broke out to rout Hudson Valley last night. The first key play came in the very first inning when prospect catcher Tyler Tolve gunned down a would-be Renegades base stealer trying for second. Just look at the quickness by Tolve…

Then it was just a matter of watching Rome starter Roddery Munoz work, who in his first start at the High-A level, struck out five Hudson Valley batters and carried a no-hitter into the fourth.

In the second, though, following a lead-off single by Drew Campbell and a base-hit by Landon Stephens, two batters later Beau Philip absolutely crushed a line drive to left-center for a two-run double.

After Munoz left the game (midway in the fourth), Rome’s bullpen dominated. First it was Jake McSteen, who tossed 2 1/3 hitless innings and struck out three. Then it was Lisandro Santos, who struck out five in two frames. And finally, Austin Smith worked a scoreless ninth to preserve the R-Braves win.

Rome added six insurance runs during the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The powerful Stephens slugged his second homer of the year to put the R-Braves up 7-1.

Then in the eighth, prospect Vaughn Grissom went the other way with a deep line drive double, scoring another run to extend the lead to 8-1, our final score.

Grissom and Stephens continue to be a fun 1-2 punch to watch this season. Although this entire Rome lineup seems to be hot right now, as lead-off hitter Cody Milligan is hitting .462, Grissom .348, Campbell .294, with Stephens and Bryson Horne each at a .357 AVG. This is a fun team to watch.

A – Augusta GreenJackets (3-2)

W, 1-0 vs. Myrtle Beach

(P) Tyler Owens – (W), 5 IP, H, BB, 5 K

(P) Estarlin Rodriguez – 3 IP, H, 3 K

(2B) Geraldo Quintero – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI

This one was a low-scoring affair that only featured seven hits combined for both teams. Augusta’s 21-year-old starter, Tyler Owens, was solid is his 2022 opener as he didn’t allow a single hit until the fifth, when Myrtle Beach slapped a two-out single to break the no-no. Owens struggled in Single-A last season, so hopefully in his second stint he can perform more to his potential. Wednesday’s outing was definately a step in the right direction.

The GreenJackets broke the 0-0 tie in the second, when – with the bases loaded – Geraldo Quintero slapped a line drive to left. However, the base-hit only scored one as Kadon Morton crossed home from third. After that, that was pretty much all the excitement. Every inning following the second featured either no hits at all for each team… or just one, as neither Augusta nor Myrtle Beach seemed to have brought its bats last night.

The GreenJackets Juan Mateo earned the save by working a perfect ninth.

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