The Birmingham Barons moved within a win of their first Southern League Championship since 2002 after an 8-2 win over the Mobile BayBears in front of 5,706 fans at Hank Aaron Stadium.
Mobile took their first lead of the Championship in the second thanks in part to a fielding error by shortstop Tyler Saladino and a hit batsman. After loading the bases, Ender Inciarte singled to left to bring home the first run of the game. Beck was able to escape further damage by striking out Justin Greene and inducing a pop out against Dustin Martin to end the inning.
After 3.0 perfect innings, the Barons were able to get to Mobile starter David Holmberg in the fourth, getting back-to-back singles by Micah Johnson and Cody Puckett to lead off the inning. After advancing to second and third respectively on a wild pitch, Trayce Thompson plated the first run of the inning with an RBI groundout, sending Puckett to third. The inning looked to be over when Mike Earley sent a groundball to shortstop Nick Ahmed, but Ahmed bobbled the ball and wasn't able to recover in time to get Earley, allowing Puckett to score and giving the Barons a 2-1 lead.
After watching the BayBears tie the game on a base hit by Nick Evans in the 5th, Trayce Thompson catapulted the Barons back into the lead for good with a booming home run onto BayBear Mountain in left field. It was his team-leading second home run and eighth RBI of the post-season.
Beck was removed prior to the seventh inning in favor reliever Ryan Kussmaul. Beck allowed two runs (one earned) on the night while scattering six hits and striking out four.
The Barons blew the game open with five runs in the eighth aided by a pair of Mobile errors. The first occurred on a sacrifice bunt by Keenyn Walker that Nick Evans played into an error when he attempted to force out Mike Blanke at second base. After loading the bases on a bunt base hit by Micah Johnson, Trayce Thompson sent a routine groundball to reliever Willy Paredes who threw wildly over the head of catcher Raywilly Gomez, allowing two runs to score. Dan Black would follow with a two-run double to the wall in right-center and scored later in the inning on a base hit by Saladino to give the Barons an 8-2 lead.
Ryan Kussmaul and Cody Winiarski held the BayBears scoreless over the final 3.0 innings of the ballgame as the Barons claimed a commanding 2-0 series lead.
The Barons return to Birmingham tomorrow night looking for a series sweep and a Southern League Championship in the Inaugural season at Regions Field. LHP Spencer Arroyo takes the hill for the Barons LHP Andrew Chafin. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM CDT.