The Biloxi Shuckers headed to the diamond Friday night looking to extend their winning streak to seven. A night after twice battling back before downing the Mississippi Braves, Biloxi would have to battle back once again, scoring four runs in the eighth thanks to a throwing error that enabled two runs to score, and the Shuckers hang on for the victory, 5-4.
Mississippi would jump out in front with two runs in the top of the first. Michael Reed led off the game by drawing a walk and moved to second on a base hit by Alay Lago. Reed stole third before Auston Riley struck out. A ground out by Alex Jackson brought home Reed, and Lago scored when Tyler Neslony delivered a clutched to out hit into right field to put the Braves up by two.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the second when Biloxi would cut their deficit in half. Blake Allemand started the inning with his first double of the year. He moved to third on a ground out before scoring on a ground out by Dustin Houle to make it 2-1.
In the top of the third, the Mississippi Braves would restore their two run lead. Reed began the inning with another walk and moved to third when Lago followed with a double into right field. An intentional walk loaded the bases with one out and Nelsony delivered his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly. That made it 3-1.
Neither starter lasted past the third inning, making this a battle of bullpens. Enderson Franco came on for Mississippi in the fourth and tossed three scoreless frames, striking out 4. Kodi Medeiros came in for Biloxi in the third, and only allowed that one run in the third inning. The left-hander allowed 2 hits while striking out 5 in 5 innings of work.
Mississippi sent Adam McCreery out in the seventh, and he delivered a 1-2-3 inning. However, in the bottom of the eighth things fell apart for the Braves reliever. Dylan Moore led off the inning with a base hit into center field. He was replaced on the base paths by a fielder’s choice by Corey Ray who moved to third on a base hit by Troy Stokes, Jr. Lucas Erceg then drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
McCreery was replaced by Connor Lien who was unable to end the threat. A base hit by Nick Franklin moved everybody up 90 feet, bringing Ray home to make it a one run game. That brought Jake Gatewood to the plate. Gatewood grounded a ball down to first baseman Michael Snyder, who opted to throw home instead of tagging the first. His throw home was wild, allowing both Stokes and Erceg to score and suddenly Biloxi had the lead. A sacrifice fly by Allemand brought home Franklin and the Shuckers led by two.
That sent the game to the top of the ninth inning, where Mississippi would mount a rally. Nate Griep came on looking for his third save in as many nights. Snyder led off the inning with a base hit and moved to second on a ground out. Luis Valenzuela followed with a line drive base hit into right field that brought Snyder home and the Biloxi lead was only one. Lien then fell behind 0-2 before battling all the way back to draw the walk to move the tying run to second. Griep struck out Reed for the second out of the inning before getting Lago to fly out to Ray for the final out, preserving the 5-4 victory.
That gave the Biloxi Shuckers a franchise record seven straight wins. Lucas Erceg finished 2-3 with a run, a double and a walk. Jon Olczak (1-0) earned the victory with a perfect inning of relief and Griep earned his fifth save of the season. Corey Ray saw his seven game hitting streak come to an end.
The Shuckers look to extend their win streak to eight tomorrow night. Biloxi will send Thomas Jankins (1-0, 0.00) to the hill. The Mississippi Braves will counter with Richardo Sanchez (0-1, 3.00). Game time is 6:35 local time.
By Robert Pannier