The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp had to be feeling like they were going to get a big victory after scoring a run in the top of the ninth to take a 2-1 lead. However, center fielder Corey Ray crushed their hopes with a two-run blast in the bottom half of the frame, giving the Biloxi Shuckers the 3-2 walk-off victory.
This contest started out as a great pitcher’s duel between the Jumbo Shrimp’s Pablo Lopez and the Biloxi Shuckers’ Angel Ventura. Jacksonville took the lead in the top of the first. Isan Diaz led off with a base hit and Monte Harrison followed by reaching on an error to put runners at first and second with no one out. Ventura attempted to pick off the lead runner, but his throw went wild, allowing Diaz to score and Harrison to move to second. However, the Biloxi starter settled down, striking out two of the next three batters to end the rally.
From there, neither team was able to mount much of a rally over the next five and half innings. Lopez allowed 3-hits and 2-walks over the first five innings of the game, striking out four before he left.
Ventura settled down after the miscues of the first inning. He allowed 3-hits while striking out 6 through the first 4.2 innings. Nick Ramirez came on with two down in the fifth, and would toss 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.
In the bottom of the sixth, Zech Lemond took over for Jacksonville, and he breezed through the sixth, but the reliever found himself in some trouble in the seventh. With one down, Clint Coulter turned on an offering and crushed it over the wall in left-center for his first home run of the season. That tied the score and it looked like Biloxi would take the lead when Wendell Rijo reached on an error before Corey Ray and Dylan Moore followed with walks. That brought Jeff Kinley in, who induced a double-play to end the threat to keep the score tied.
It stayed that way until the top of the ninth when the Jumbo Shrimp would retake the lead. With one down, Chris Diaz lined a single into center field. Mason Davis followed with a slow roller to short that Jake Hager made a nice play to gun him at first. However, Diaz moved to second and he scored on a single by Isan Diaz to give Jacksonville the 2-1 lead.
Jacksonville sent Marcus Crescentini on in the bottom of the inning looking to close it out, but a throwing error by the Jumbo Shrimp’s short stop allowed the leadoff batter to reach. The reliever retired the next batter, but Ray followed by lining his second homer of the season over the wall in left field to give the Biloxi Shuckers the 3-2 walk-off victory.
Brad Kuntz (1-2) earned the victory with 2-innings of relief. He allowed 2-hits and a run, while striking out 3. Clint Coulter finished 1-4 with 2-runs, a homer and an RBI. Corey Ray was 1-3 with a run, homer, 2-RBI, and 2-walks. Isan Diaz was 2-4 with a run and an RBI for Jacksonville.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for 6:35 tomorrow. Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 1.80) will face off against Zack Brown (1-0, 4.44).
By Robert Pannier