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Alan Rangel and Luis De Avila both shove; Brandol Mezquita extends on-base streak to 31

The Atlanta Braves nearly spoiled another potential win late in the game on Tuesday night. Up 4-3 against Philly in the top-half of the ninth, Bryce Harper homered to center to put the Phillies up by one, and once again it looked like another disappointing loss was coming. But surprisingly, the Braves answered in the bottom-half of the inning. Dansby Swanson led off with a double, a wild pitch pushed him to second, and then Ronald Acuna lifted a sac-fly to center and Swanson made it all the way home due to an error by Philadelphia. With the game tied at five apiece, William Contreras slapped the walk-off RBI line drive, giving Atlanta the big win.

I hope last night’s win lights a fire under the team’s ass, as folks will say. We need a winning streak… badly.

It’s tough to top that on the farm, but Tuesday featured its share of highlights down in the minors as well. Here’s a recap of all the action…

AAA – Gwinnett (21-22)

L, 10-1 (F/6) vs. Norfolk

(P) Bryce Elder – (L), 4 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, HR

(3B) Phil Gosselin – 2 for 3, HR, RBI

(1B) John Nogowski – 1 for 2,

This one had to end a little early due to rain, but honestly it was probably a good thing it did given how bad the game was getting out of hand. Norfolk only managed to tally six hits as a team, though they made each and every one count, as those hits included a three-run and two-run home run, as well as a two-run double. The Tides broke it wide open in the fifth when it sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs.

Tuesday’s clunker was one of prospect Bryce Elder’s worst outings of the season so far, and the second time in three weeks that he’s allowed six runs in a start. Hopefully he’ll bounce back in his next game. But regardless, Elder sports a 5.93 ERA overall in the minors in 2022.

Phil Gosselin was really the only highlight of last night’s loss. The 33-year-old continues to swing a hot bat for Gwinnett this season, and so far this month he’s performing even better than he did in April; for May, Gosselin is hitting .333 with a 1.005 OPS, to go with nine XBH (4 HR) in 15 games.

AA – Mississippi (19-21)

W, 5-2 vs. Pensacola

(P) Alan Rangel – 5 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 6 K

(DH) Riley Delgado – 1 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI

(SS) Yariel Gonzalez – 2 for 4, R, SB

(RF) Jacob Pearson – 1 for 3, 2B, RBI, R, BB

The M-Braves won its series opener versus Pensacola last night, thanks to a pair of huge back-to-back hits late by both Jacob Pearson and Andrew Moritz – an RBI double by the former and a two-run single by the latter… both in the ninth inning.

Tied at two apiece through eight, Pearson and Moritz gave Mississippi a three-run lead late.

That three-run inning was part of yet another comeback for the M-Braves, who have came back to win four its last six games. A lot of why the team was able to come back was because of starting pitcher Alan Rangel, who limited the Blue Wahoos to just one run from four hits in his five innings of work.

It was a rare 0 for 5 performance by prospect Michael Harris II. Although, Riley Delgado kept his hitting streak going to 10-straight now, going 2 for 4. And though Harris was hitless, the center fielder once again made an impressive play on defense, diving for a ball in the second.

Following Rangel’s successful start, Coleman Huntley, Justin Yeager and Justin Maese pitched the final four innings of the game. Huntley ran into some trouble in the seventh, walking the lead-off batter and then two batters later serving up a game-tying sac-fly. But ultimately he settled in and got the job done, and Yeager and Maese followed suit.

A+ – Rome (24-16)

W, 3-1 vs. Hudson Valley

(P) Luis De Avila – (W), 6 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Bullpen – 3 IP, H, BB, 6 K

(LF) Landon Stephens – 1 for 3, 2B, 2 RBI

(RF) Drew Campbell – 2 for 4, 2B, R

(1B) Bryson Horne – 1 for 3, RBI, BB

Rome started Week 8 on a positive note, thanks to perhaps righty Luis De Avila’s best outing of the 2022 season thus far. The 20-year-old began the start by facing the minimum in the first and second innings, before allowing a one-out single in the third. Although, that base-hit by Hudson Valley was essentially harmless, as De Avila induced a pop-out and a strike out to end the frame. The R-Braves starter then proceeded to work around a lead-off walk and, after back-to-back stolen bases, an RBI groundout. However, he ended his night by setting down six consecutive batters in the fifth and sixth, completing the six-inning one-hitter in just 79 pitches.

Rome’s offense got on the board and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Tuesday, when Drew Campbell led off the frame with a double, and after a one-out walk by Beau Philip two batters later, Bryson Horne knocked in Campbell with an RBI single.

Of course, as mentioned above, the Renegades would tie the game in the fourth with that RBI ground ball, but in the fifth the R-Braves thankfully answered. Cade Bunnell drew a lead-off walk, Cody Milligan singles and three batters later Landon Stephens smoked a line drive double off the base of the right-center wall, scoring both Bunnell and Milligan, putting Rome up by two.

Then the R-Braves bullpen went into Shutdown Mode, as the trio of Malcolm Van Buren, Trey Riley and Alec Barger combined to strike out six in three shutout innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth.

Overall, four Rome pitchers held Hudson Valley to just two hits in Tuesday’s game – one of the best collective pitching performance by the team so far in 2022. In regards to De Avila individually, the guy is in the zone right now, as last night’s dominant outing gives him just one earned run in his last three starts combined – a span of 17 innings. He’ll enter his next game with a solid 3.35 ERA so far this year. That go-ahead, two-run double by Stephens was clutch for Rome, and lately the slugger has started to heat up again. Going back to last week, he’s hit safely in four games in a row, and has three two-baggers in that span. Also hot is Campbell, who finished with a pair of hits in the win. The former 23rd-round pick has now tallied exactly two hits in each of his last three games, as part of a 10-game stretch in which he’s currently 12 for 41 (.292 AVG).

A – Augusta (21-19)

L, 8-5 vs. Myrtle Beach

(P) Jordano Perez – (L), 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

(LF) Kadon Morton – 1 for 4, 3B, 3 RBI

(2B) Caleb Durbin – 1 for 3, 2B, RBI, BB

(CF) Brandol Mezquita – 1 for 3, RBI, R, BB

(1B) Mahki Backstrom – 1 for 3, 2 R, BB, SB

Augusta unfortunately ran into a scorching-hot Myrtle Beach team on Tuesday night, as the Pelicans victory was its ninth-straight win.

The GreenJackets actually jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, when Brandol Mezquita knocked in Cal Conley with an RBI single. However, that lead wouldn’t last long at all. Through three, Myrtle Beach was up 3-1, as Augusta starter Jordano Perez had allowed an RBI single and a run-scoring groundout in the first, to go with a run-scoring wild pitch in the third. The righty settled down in the fourth, facing the minimum thanks to a double-play ball. But in the fifth, a two-out RBI double extended the Pelicans lead to 4-1, and Perez’s day was done following that inning.

Augusta also scored in the fifth, off an RBI double by Caleb Durbin. Then, a three-run triple off the bat of Kadon Morton in the bottom-half of the ninth almost made this one interesting. However, following Morton’s clutch XBH, Brian Klein flew out to right to end the game.

Mezquita’s on-base streak is now up to 31 consecutive games, folks, as the 20-year-old outfielder is up to a .331 AVG and .854 OPS, to go with 10 XBH (2 HR) and five stolen bases in 35 total games so far this season. Just how long can he keep this going?

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