Sunday, June 20, 2021
Rain in the southeast spoiled most of Saturday as the big league team was washed out, including both Triple-A Gwinnett and High-A Rome. But the rainy day didn’t ruin Mississippi’s night, nor did it keep Augusta from picking up a solid win.
Here’s a recap of Saturday’s action…
(24-17) Mississippi Braves
W, 3-2 vs. Birmingham
SP, H. Deal – 6 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 7 K
RF, T. Harris – 2 for 4, R
3B, C. Alexander – 1 for 4, 2B
For the fourth consecutive night the M-Braves won as outfielder Trey Harris scored the walk-off run in the 9th when a wild-pitch deflected off Birmingham’s catcher. Mississippi’s players mobbed Harris after he crossed home plate, and for good reason, because Saturday’s victory was certainly a struggle.
The Barons starting pitcher, righty Jason Bilous, had everything working in this one. The White Sox 27th-ranked prospect — and former 13th round pick — didn’t allow a single hit over five innings, including nine strikeouts and zero walks. The 23-year-old Bilous had the start of his life, though surprisingly B-ham decided to remove him at just 62 pitches, after he had set down 15 batters in a a row. That was certainly fine with the M-Braves.
Mississippi’s offense finally came together for a rally in the 7th when both Wendell Rijo and Jacob Pearson walked and Harris singled to load the bases. It was shortstop Braden Shewmake that put the ball in play to push in Rijo to tie the game at one apiece. Then in the 8th with Mississippi down 2-1, following hits by Drew Lugbauer and Hendrik Clementia, Pearson added another run for the M-Braves when he grounded into a double-play with the bases-loaded. Harris scored the game-winning run the next inning.
And while Birmingham’s Bilous was of course impressive, the M-Braves starter last night, lefty Hayden Deal, was strong as well. In 87 pitches, the 26-year-old went a season-high six innings and struck out seven Barons, doing a nice job keeping the ball in the dirt with five ground-ball outs. Deal has been sharp essentially all season long, and Saturday night’s outing gives him a 1.96 ERA in his last five starts combined, to go with 23 strikeouts in 23 innings. For the 2021 campaign, Deal sports a 3.28 ERA.
Relievers Kurt Hoekstra and Josh Graham finished the game, working the final three frames. Hoekstra walked three and struck out one in his hitless 7th inning, while Graham allowed five hits, a run and struck out one in his two innings.
There was also some strong defense by Mississippi as outfielder Jefrey Ramos laid out for a diving catch in the 5th.
All-in-all, it was a great win for the M-Braves, who looked absolutely lost at the plate for much of last night’s game. I knew they would get it going eventually!
(19-22) Augusta GreenJackets
W, 8-3 vs. Columbia
SP, D. Vines – (W), 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 10 K, HR
C, R. Rodriguez – 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBI
SS, V. Grissom – 1 for 4, 2 RBI, R, BB
Last night Augusta wore the classic Chattanooga Choo-Choo uniforms, honoring the Negro Southern League club from the 1940s, and the fresh apparel appeared to have kickstarted an offense that’s been mostly quiet of late.
The GreenJackets opened up the scoring in the 1st when first baseman Landon Stephens slugged a three-run home run, following a lead-off walk by Cade Bunnell and a single by prospect Vaughn Grissom. As a result, righty Darius Vines took the mound already with a 3-0 lead to work with… and he took full advantage.
The 25-year-old Vines put together one of his best starts of the year and tallied a season-high 10 strikeouts in this one. Other than a fielding error that allowed Columbia to score a 1st-inning run, Vines’ only blemish was a solo-homer by the Fireflies in the 3rd. And despite only throwing 59 of 83 pitches for a strike, the former 7th round pick did not issue a single walk in Saturday’s outing. Vines has managed to go at least five innings in each of his last four starts this season, and in that span he sports a 1.96 ERA to go with 32 strikeouts in 23 innings. He’ll enter his next one with a 2.25 ERA overall in 2021.
The outburst by the GreenJackets offense was nice to see as the lineup collectively tallied nine hits in yesterday’s game. Catcher Ricardo Rodriguez continues to have a solid 2021 campaign, and his two hits (including a HR) pushes his season AVG up to .269. The 23-year-old should get a chance to show what he can do in High-A at some point this year.
And despite shortstop Cam Shepherd’s poor 2021 season as a whole (.167 AVG), the former 20th round pick is doing his best to turn things around. Counting last night’s two hits, Shepherd is 8 for 23 (.348 AVG) in his last seven games as Augusta’s no. 9 hitter. Hopefully his hitting can continue.
Today is one full day of baseball. The big league team will play a doubleheader versus the Cardinals. And then on the minor league side of things we’ll have a crucial rehab start for Touki Toussaint down in Mississippi. For Rome, it looks like Bryce Elder will take the hill, and so far, Augusta’s starter has not been announced.