Navarro hit a walk-off grand slam, propelling the Bats to a surprising 10-8 comeback win over the Braves at Louisville Slugger Field Saturday night. Braves manager Dave Brundage came out to argue that the ball did not clear the fence, but the umpires upheld the call, ending the game.
Louisville trailed 8-5 entering the ninth, and the inning started routinely as Braves pitcher Jaye Chapman struck out Cody Puckett. Mike Costanzo followed with a double and Denis Phipps walked to put two men on with one out. Didi Gregorius hit a shot to right field that may have cleared the bases, but Jordan Parraz made a stellar play in the outfield to record the out, and it looked like Gwinnett was going to come away with the win. Chapman then walked Corky Miller and Neftali Soto, crossing Costanzo and ending Chapman's night.
Buddy Carlyle came on to try for the final out with Navarro at the plate, and he sent a shot that looked to just barely clear the fence in right. Not even the men on base were sure if the ball was ruled a homer initially as everyone began racing home before the umpire signaled a home run, prompting the visit from Brundage as Navarro was mobbed by his teammates at the plate.
The slam is Navarro's fourth homer of the season and just the second walk-off win of the season for Louisville. Donnie Joseph picked up his third win, allowing one run on two hits with a strikeout in two innings. Chapman was saddled with his fifth loss, getting credit for four earned runs on a hit and three walks with three strikeouts in two innings.
For most of the game, it looked as if the Bats were destined to lose. Facing Julio Teheran, rated as the No. 1 prospect in the Atlanta Braves system, Louisville failed to find any offensive rhythm. A three-run home run by Xavier Paul put the Bats in the lead 3-2 after the second, but Teheran kept Louisville in check for almost the rest of his outing.
Louisville got a gift in the seventh as Cody Puckett scored on a dropped third strike that would have ended the inning. Henry Rodriguez followed with a double to cross Gregorius, ending Teheran's night in the process. Chapman recorded the final out of the inning by picking off Rodriguez at second, as the Braves held on to a 7-5 lead after seven. Gwinnett padded their lead in the eighth as Felix Pie hit an RBI single to score Jose Constanza, setting up Navarro's heroics in the ninth.
Paul and Rodriguez chipped in with two hits apiece, adding to the homers from Navarro and Paul to power the offense. Constanza proved to be the cog in the Braves lineup all night, finishing 3-for-5 with a stolen base and three runs score, extending his franchise record hitting streak to 17 games in the process. Parraz and Yepez hit solo home runs in the third and fourth innings respectively.
Bats' starter Chad Reineke allowed runs in four of the five frames he appeared in, giving up a season-high seven - six earned - on nine hits with a strikeout in 3.1 innings. Teheran finished with five runs allowed - four earned - on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
The Braves struck early, as Constanza led off the game with a single and scored on a double by Josh Wilson on the next at-bat. Wilson managed to cross after Gregorius made an errant throw to first following a grounder from Parraz, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead after one.
Louisville took the lead back in the second thanks to the three-run home run by Paul. The homer was Paul's ninth of the season but the first since being acquired by the Bats on July 12.
Following the homer by Yepez in the fourth, Lance Zawadzki smacked a triple and Teheran brought him in with a single. Constanza then doubled, and Reineke finally got Josh Wilson to fly out before exiting. Kanekoa Texeira came on to pitch, but immediately surrendered a two-run single to Felix Pie to round out the scoring for the inning, giving what looked like at the time an insurmountable 7-3 lead after four.
The Bats and Braves will wrap up their four-game set at 6:05 p.m. Sunday at Louisville Slugger Field. Pedro Villarreal (2-6, 3.96) will take the mound for the Bats, going up against Jose Lugo (2-4, 5.26).