It seems that every day the Biloxi Shuckers find a new hero, and Friday night it was second baseman Wendell Rijo who stepped up, blasting two home runs and finishing a perfect 3-3 in the Shuckers 6-4 victory over the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Lucas Erceg also homered and Nate Griep earned his Southern League leading 10th save of the season to preserve the win.
It was a scoreless tie through the first two frames, but Jacksonville would take the lead with four runs in the top of the third. Chris Diaz led off with a base hit and Elieser Hernandez followed by reaching on an error. After Isan Diaz walked to load the bases, Monte Harrison grounded a double down the line in left field that scored two. Zach Brown settled down to strike out the next two batters, but Brian Schales delivered a clutch base hit up the middle that scored both Diaz and Harrison and Jacksonville had a four run lead.
The Shuckers would cut into that lead in the bottom half of the inning, thanks to Wendell Rijo. He led off the inning with a shot over the left field wall for his second homerun of the season.
An inning later this became a one run game. With two down, Jake Hager singled to keep the inning alive. That proved to be pivotal, as Rijo followed with a line drive shot over the wall in left-center for his second homerun of the game, making it 4-3.
It looked like Biloxi would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth when they would load the bases with just one out. However, Kolton Mahoney was able to strike out the dangerous Jake Gatewood before retiring Coulter to preserve the lead.
The Biloxi Shuckers trailed into the seventh, when they would take their first lead of the game. Jose Quijada took over and struck out the opening batter of the inning. However, Troy Stokes, Jr. followed with a base hit before Lucas Erceg drilled a towering home run over the right field wall that put Biloxi on top, 5-4. Tyler Heineman followed with a base hit into right. Jacksonville brought in Esmerling De La Rosa, but he was greeted by a double just inside the third-base bag by Gatewood. Heineman came all the way around from first to score, extending the lead to two.
The Jumbo Shrimp looked like they would get it right back in the top of the eighth when they were able to put two on with two outs. However, Nate Griep was called upon to get the final out of the inning, and he was able to do so, inducing Cade Gotta to ground out to end the threat. In the ninth, the Biloxi closer returned and retired Jacksonville in order for his 10th save of the season.
Wendell Rijo finished 3-3 with 2-runs, 2-homers, and 3-RBI for the Biloxi Shuckers. Lucas Erceg was 2-5 with a run, homer and 2-RBI. Jon Olczak (2-0) earn the victory with tw0-thirds innings of relief.
The Biloxi Shuckers will look to extend their winning streak to four tomorrow. Cody Poteet (2-1, 4.33) will go for Jacksonville versus Adrian Houser (0-0, 7.84). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.
By Robert Pannier