Montgomery Biscuits Hang-On to Down Biloxi, 3-2
It was opening-night of the 2018 Southern League season for the Biloxi Shuckers as they traveled to Alabama to take on the Montgomery Biscuits. Biloxi found themselves trailing early, but battled back to tie the score before an error would cost them the game. That ruined a fantastic offensive performance by Lucas Erceg, who had three hits on opening-night.
The game got off to a great start for Montgomery, as Andrew Velazquez took the opening pitch in the bottom of the first-inning, drilling it over the right field wall to give the Biscuits the lead. Luis Ortiz retired the next batter, but back-to-back opposite field hits by Brandon Lowe and Brett Sullivan followed by a walk to Dalton Kelly loaded the bases with just one out. The Biloxi starter was able to induce Nick Solak to hit a fly ball into right field for the second out, but Lowe scored on the play to extend the Montgomery lead to two.
In the bottom of the third, it looked like the Biscuits would make the lead three. Lowe drilled a pitch to deep centerfield, but Corey Ray reached up and over the fence to bring the ball back, denying the home run and keeping this a one run game.
That proved to be pivotal, as the Shuckers would tie the score in the top of the fourth. Lucas Erceg drilled the ball down the line in right field that hugged the line, allowing Erceg to race into second with a leadoff double. Tyler Heineman followed with a double of his own, easily scoring Erceg to cut the deficit in half. Two batters later, Ray blooped a single into shallow centerfield. Heineman came all the way around from second to score and the game was tied at two.
After giving up the two runs in the first, Ortiz settled down and pitched a gem. After giving up a leadoff double to start the bottom of the second, the Biloxi starter retired nine in a row. He would leave after five, allowing 5 hits, and a walk, while striking out 2.
Genesis Cabrera also came out after five innings. He pitched an outstanding game as well, allowing 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 8, including striking out the side in the second.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh, when a tough play resulted in a run for the Biscuits. Ryan Boldt started the inning with a base hit to left and moved to second after Jermaine Palacios walked. Tristan Archer came on in relief and was able to retire the next two batters, but Jake Cronenworth grounded a ball toward the third base line. Archer had a very difficult play, throwing to first to try to get the runner, but the ball sailed down the right field line into foul territory. Boldt easily came around to score and Montgomery was back on top.
In the top of the ninth, Kyle Bird came on looking to close the door and give the Montgomery Biscuits the opening-night victory. He struck out the first batter of the inning before Jake Hager walked. Two batters later Troy Stokes, Jr. beat out a ground ball to third to put the tying run at second base. However, Bird was able to strike out Erceg swinging to close out the game as Montgomery won 3-2.
Ruben Alaniz (1-0) earned a victory for Montgomery, while Quintin Torres-Costa (0-1) took the loss. Lucas Erceg finished 3-5 with a run and 2 doubles for Biloxi.
These two teams will continue their five game series tomorrow. Zack Brown goes for the Biloxi Shuckers. No starter has been named for Montgomery.
By Robert Pannier