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Phil Gosselin smacks 2 HR for Gwinnett, while AJ Smith-Shawver helps Augusta prevent a org-wide sweep

Phil Gosselin smacks 2 HR for Gwinnett, while AJ Smith-Shawver helps Augusta prevent a org-wide sweep

Welp, the Braves lost yet another game it should’ve won yesterday, taking a 3-3 tie into extra-innings only to lose 7-3 to the Padres. Atlanta committed three errors on the day… and let’s just say it was a rough day at the office for the Bravos on Sunday.

However, Sunday also marked a day of series finales for all four Braves minor league affiliates, as the farm wrapped up Week 6 of the 2022 season. Here’s a look at all the action from yesterday’s games…

AAA – Gwinnett (17-19)

L, 6-4 vs. Durham

(P) Touki Toussaint – (L), 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

(P) Seth Elledge – IP, H, 3 K

(LF) Preston Tucker – 1 for 4, HR, RBI

(3B) Phil Gosselin – 3 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB

(1B) John Nogowski – 1 for 3, HR, RBI, BB

It was another rather sloppy start for Touki Toussaint, who once again allowed three or more runs AND three or more walks (his third such outing in a row). Touki needed a whopping 86 pitches to get through 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, and as a result, the Stripers were forced to lean on a quartet of arms from its bullpen.

But Gwinnett’s offense kept the team in the game, and Preston Tucker remained hot at the plate with a solo home run in the opening inning to put the Stripers up 1-0.

Toussaint bent but didn’t break through the first three frames yesterday, working around two hit-by-pitches, a single and a walk, though he managed to keep Durham off the scoreboard. But in the fourth that quickly changed. First, Touki surrendered a lead-off homer to make it a tied ballgame.

Then, three batters later, following a strikeout and a walk, the Gwinnett righty gave up a second long ball to make it a two-run advantage for the Bulls.

Touki was unable to get another out in that costly fourth. Following that last dinger, Durham would go on to quickly load the bases with back to back singles and a walk, ending Toussaint’s day. However, Nolan Kingham came in and did an excellent job of holding the game right there, as he struck out the first batter and then induced an inning-ending pop out.

That 3-1 lead for the Bulls held until the sixth. With two outs in the inning, Phil Gosselin turned on a pitch for a solo home run over the tall left field wall, making it a 3-2 game.

But Durham would answer back in the bottom-half of the frame, thanks to some control issues by Brad Brach, who wound up walking three batters in the inning, which was capped off by a sac-fly by the Bulls to go up by two again. Despite a pair of homers by the Stripers in the final frame (from both Gosselin and John Nogowski), Durham tacked on two more in the eighth against reliever R.J. Alaniz, pushing the deficit out of reach, as Gwinnett dropped its series finale on Sunday despite swatting four long balls as a team. Overall for the week, the Stripers lost the Durham series, thanks to four-straight losses.

He has sort of flew under the radar, but Gosselin has put together quite an impressive start to the 2022 season down in Gwinnett. The 33-year-old infielder hit .274 in April and is now up to a .302 AVG for the year overall, thanks to a recent stretch of solid hitting; over his last 17 games, the veteran journeyman is batting .339 with seven XBH (3 HR) and has recorded a hit in all but three of those contests. His two homers on Sunday gives him a total of three.

AA – Mississippi (14-19)

L, 7-2 vs. Chattanooga

(P) Tanner Gordon – (L), 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, HR

Bullpen – 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, BB, 6 K

(DH) Jalen Miller – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI, BB

(1B) Drew Lugbauer – 3 for 4, 2 2B

(2B) Riley Delgado – 1 for 3, R, BB

Yesterday’s M-Braves game was really hard to watch. Looking for another solid outing at the Double-A level, prospect righty Tanner Gordon labored through his 3 2/3-inning start, totaling 83 pitches altogether, thanks to some unfortunate batted-ball luck and a few errors by the Mississippi defense behind him. Gordon obviously didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday, but it’s like he couldn’t catch a break. And after Chattanooga scored its second run of the fourth (of which both were charged as unearned runs due to blunders by CJ Alexander), his day was done. Hopefully Gordon can get some better results next time out, though for now he’ll carry a 5.01 ERA for the season.

Mississippi actually led this game 2-0 through the first pair of innings, thanks to a solo home run from a scorching-hot Jalen Miller in the first… and a bases-loaded walk by Miller in the second.

But the Lookouts answered in the third, pushing across three runs. And they were all honest scores as Gordon allowed a pair of doubles and a two-run homer. That fourth inning mentioned above was a rough one, ending with four more runs for Chattanooga. And with a 7-2 deficit, the M-Braves had quite the hill to climb to get back in this one. However, with only five base runners combined during the remaining five innings, Mississippi’s offense couldn’t make the comeback.

I know Gordon’s start was far from ideal, but once he left, the M-Braves bullpen did a nice job of at least keeping the score where it was. Troy Bacon, Indigo Diaz, Victor Vodnik and Tyler Ferguson held the Lookouts during those final 3 1/3 innings, and it was nice to see Vodnik bringing the heat in his one-inning, three-strikeout appearance. Give the kid yet another shutout inning for 2022.

The M-Braves bats have cooled lately, but that doesn’t go for Jalen Miller, who can’t be stopped at the moment. The 25-year-old had a helluva series in Chattanooga, finishing the week 9 for 20 (.450 AVG) with four XBH and five RBI in five games overall, pushing his season AVG from a middling .182 all the way up to a solid .266 for 2022. It’s a small sample, but for some reason Miller loves hitting on the road, as he owns a 1.118 OPS in away games but just a .323 OPS at home. Hopefully he can turn that around when the M-Braves return to Pearl.

A+ – Rome (19-14)

L, 5-1 vs. Winston-Salem

(P) Andrew Hoffmann – 5 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 3 K

(2B) Cody Milligan – 3 for 4, 3B

(3B) Justyn-Henry Malloy – 1 for 4

(1B) Bryson Horne – 1 for 3, BB

Rome’s winning streak was snapped on Sunday, ending at five in a row as Winston-Salem quieted the R-Braves bats. Rome’s offense managed just one XBH yesterday – a hustle triple by infielder Cody Milligan, which was one of his three hits on the day. Really, the only other highlight in the loss was a diving catch by center fielder Drew Campbell in the seventh.

Overall it just wasn’t a great game for Rome, even though starter Andrew Hoffmann really didn’t pitch that badly. The prospect righty didn’t get his usual high number of punch outs, and his four walks wasn’t ideal, but all in all Hoffman was good enough as he tossed a three-hitter through five scoreless innings. However, the R-Braves bullpen was pretty bad. A quartet of relievers – Lisandro Santos, Trey Riley, Dylan Spain and Alec Barger – combined to give up five runs from six hits during the final four frames, giving the Dash an easy series finale victory.

For Hoffmann, the blah outing is nothing to feel bad about. The kid still owns a strong 2.91 ERA so far this season and is certainly trending in the right direction. Winning five of six at home is always nice, so Rome’s all good.

A – Augusta (20-13)

W, 5-2 vs. Columbia

(P) AJ Smith-Shawver – 4 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, HR

(DH) Brandon Parker – 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI

(1B) Braulio Vasquez – 1 for 3, 2B, R, BB

(3B) Caleb Durbin – 1 for 3, RBI, BB

(SS) Cal Conley – 2 for 4, R, SB

Augusta starter AJ Smith-Shawver was coming off a 12-strikeout performance from this past Tuesday, and yesterday he was looking to build off that strong outing. Overall he did just that, as the teenage righty racked up eight punch outs on Sunday. Even though he didn’t complete the fifth, the 19-year-old Smith-Shawver did a nice job of finishing strong, setting down five Columbia batters in a row before hitting the showers. The latest performance gives the prospect pitcher a 4.40 ERA through seven starts so far in 2022. Although, best of all, Smith-Shawver is averaging 17.2 strikeouts per, perhaps suggesting that his run-prevention will continue to improve.

The GreenJackets offense was limited to just six hits on Sunday, though they made them count. After going down 2-0 through two, Braulio Vasquez led off the third with a line drive double and then was knocked in two batters later by an RBI base-hit from a hot-hitting Caleb Durbin. It’s funny, because Durbin – one of the team’s most consistent hitters so far this season – continues to primarily bat ninth in the batting order, though he still has 20 RBI.

Augusta tied the game in the fifth, as Brandon Parker led off the frame with a solo home run that he got every bit of. The long ball was surprisingly Parker’s first of the 2022 season.

That 2-2 score remained for what seemed like forever. However, in the eighth the GreenJackets pushed across three runs thanks to some help from the Fireflies bullpen. First, Cal Conley singled, then Columbia’s reliever walked three batters in a row, followed by another RBI from Parker, who slapped a line drive to left to score Brandol Mezquita. The third run of the inning for Augusta came off a balk, allowing Rusber Estrada to cross home. Juan Mateo, who came on to start the eighth, worked the final two frames for the GreenJackets and earned the win (his fourth of the season).

This past week was a great one for Augusta, who wound up winning five of six against Columbia. So far in May, the GreenJackets are 9-3 after starting out the month with back to back series wins. Next Augusta will head to Charleston for six games.

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