Archie Bradley wasn't nearly as dominant in his first playoff appearance for Double-A Mobile as he had been while winning his last six regular-season starts. The result, though, was the same.
The D-backs' top prospect went seven innings despite needing 34 pitches to get out of the first and the BayBears edged visiting Mississippi, 3-2, to make Bradley a winner in the opener of the best-of-5 Southern League South Division series Thursday night.
"He wasn't his typical self, but he was able to limit the damage to one run in the first inning and get into a rhythm after that," Mobile manager Andy Green said. "I think he was a little apprehensive there at the start and it was a good learning experience to work through that emotion. It showed how important winning for this team is to him."
"I took me a while to settle in and get going," Bradley added. "But I was able to make some big pitches when I needed them. Mississippi is a good hitting team. They're aggressive and it was the third time I faced them."
Bradley, voted the Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher after going 12-5 with a 1.97 ERA, allowed seven hits and two runs while striking out five, walking one and hitting a batter. The No. 7 prospect in MLB.com's Top 100 threw 104 pitches, 68 of them strikes.
"To win the first is huge," Bradley said. "This is a different group of guys from the last two years, but we want to win a third straight championship for Mobile. That would be big."
After running his total up to 62 in the first three innings, he threw just 42 over the next four frames.
"He's gone over 100 pitches for us before and was within his pitch count," Green said. "I really liked the way he was able to have a quick inning in the seventh."
The tiebreaking run was squeezed in by the BayBears in the bottom of the seventh as Ryan Court scored on Ender Inciarte's bunt single. Court opened the inning with a single off Mississippi reliever Juan Jaime and hustled to third base on a single by Garrett Weber, who pinch-hit for Bradley.
"We like to put pressure on the defense," Green said. "We've got a lot of speed and we try to use it."
Bradley gave up two hits and a walk in the first and Mississippi scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Martinez. The only other run the right-hander allowed came in the sixth on a groundout by Martinez after Edward Salcedo doubled and moved to third on a delayed steal.
Mobile tied it in the sixth on Nick Evans' second RBI single of the game. The former Major Leaguer had driven in an unearned run with a single in the fourth after a throwing error by Braves third baseman Salcedo.
"I don't think Nick gets the credit he deserves," Green said. "He is certainly our offensive MVP and maybe the MVP of the league."
Mississippi starter Michael Lee, who went 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in August, pitched well again. He allowed just five hits -- all singles -- and one walk in six innings before departing with the game tied an inning after being hit on the hand by Bradley while trying to bunt.
Willy Paredes struck out two in the eighth while working around a hit and Jake Barrett had a strikeout in a perfect ninth to pick up the save.
Barrett, Arizona's No. 7 prospect, was promoted to the BayBears from the Class A Advanced California League midseason and had an 0.36 ERA and 14 saves in 24 regular-season appearances.
Inciarte, Evans and Court had two singles apiece for Mobile, while Christian Bethancourt, Tommy La Stella and Salcedo each had a pair of hits for Mississippi.
Game 2 will be in Mobile on Friday night before the series shifts to Mississippi for Game 3 on Saturday. The remaining games, if needed, would be back in Mobile, where the BayBears have won 10 of their past 11 games.
In other action:
Barons 3, Smokies 1
Trayce Thompson had a home run and an RBI single to back Chris Bassitt's strong pitching as Birmingham defeated visiting Tennessee, 3-1, in the opener of the best-of-5 North Division series.
Bassitt allowed just three hits, including a fifth-inning homer by Rubi Silva, striking out nine without a walk over seven innings. The right-hander was 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA in eight regular-season starts for the Barons after going 7-2 with Winston-Salem of the Class A Advanced Carolina League.
Thompson, the No. 4 White Sox prospect, homered off Nick Struck in the fourth and drove in another run in the fifth against the Tennessee starter. Dan Black, who also had two hits, plated the other run. Gameday box score »