Matt Rose Leads Stunning Comeback as Barons Down Shuckers, 11-7
After scoring seven runs in the top of the first inning, the Biloxi Shuckers had to feel quite confident that they were heading home with a series victory over the Birmingham Barons. However, those would be the only runs they would score and the Barons would battle back behind two home runs by Matt Rose to earn the 11-7 victory. Rose drove in six in the contest, and Seby Zavala added 3 RBI of his own.
The Shuckers got this game started off right, scoring 7 runs in the first thanks to a big bomb by Wendell Rijo. Corey Ray led off the contest with a base hit to left and moved to second when Troy Stokes, Jr. drew a walk. That brought Jake Hager to the plate, who clubbed his 10th double of the season, scoring Ray and sending Stokes to third. Lucas Erceg followed with a ground ball to Keon Barnum. The first baseman fired home to get Stokes, putting runners at first and second with one down. Back-to-back wild pitches followed, allowing Hager to score and Erceg to reach third. Dylan Moore then singled to bring in Fisher and it was 3-0. Two batters later Clint Coulter kept the inning alive with a two out single and Dustin Houle walked to load the bases. That brought Rijo to the plate, who drilled his first homer of the season over the left field wall for a grand slam, and Biloxi had a commanding 7-0 lead.
The Barons responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning against Adrian Houser. Tito Polo and Zack Collins started the frame with back-to-back singles. Two batters later, Seby Zavala lined a base hit into left that scored Polo. Matt Rose followed with a line drive base hit of his own to bring home Collins and it was 7-2.
It stayed that way until the third when Birmingham would score two more runs. Zavala started the inning with a double, and Rose followed with a drive down the left field line that cleared the wall for his fourth homer of the year. That cut the deficit to three.
The Birmingham Barons had taken the Shuckers best blow and, in the fourth, they were ready to bring a crushing blow of their own. Boone Logan came on for Biloxi and walked Danny Mendrick to start the inning. Logan attempted to pick off Mendick, but his throw was wild, allowing the runner to advance to second. Polo followed with a walk and Collins lined a single into right that loaded the bases with no one out.
The Shuckers turned to Kodi Medeiros hoping he could stop the rally. He retired Eloy Jimenez on a popup, but forced home a run when he walked Zavata. That brought Rose to the plate, who drilled his second home run of the game, a grand slam, over the wall in left-center to give the Barons their first lead of the game, 9-7. Trey Michalczewski and James Fisher followed with back-to-back singles before Medeiros was able to strike out Keon Barnum. However, Mendick, the 1oth man to bat in the inning, lined a single into center that scored the lead runner and the lead for Birmingham was three.
While the Barons were putting up runs, the big story was how Ian Clarkin responded after the first inning. The Birmingham starter showed a lot of guts and composure, allowing just three more hits over the next four innings. Collins (3-2) went 5-innings, allowing 8-hits and 7-runs.
From there, the Birmingham Barons bullpen was outstanding. Jake Johansen tossed two shutouts innings of relief. Brad Goldberg came on in the eighth and tossed another scoreless frame. In the ninth, Brian Clark finished it off with a perfect inning. In all, the Barons bullpen tossed four shutout innings.
Birmingham did add one more insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Jimenez started the inning with a double and scored on a base hit by Zavala. Everyone but Barnum had at least one hit for the Barons and seven different players had at least 2-hits in the 18-hit attack. Matt Rose finished 3-5 with 2-runs scored, 2-home runs and 6-RBI. Dylan Moore had 3-hits, a run, and an RBI for Biloxi.
All teams in the Southern League are off tomorrow. On Wednesday, the Shuckers will welcome Jacksonville to town for the first meeting of the season between these two teams. Thomas Jankins (4-0, 2.55) will be looking for his fifth win of the season for Biloxi.
By Robert Pannier