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Late Inning Magic Completes Sweep
Gnats Defeat Braves 6-2 on Sunday
04/13/2014 6:33 PM ET
Third baseman Jeff McNeil hit his first professional home run Sunday- a two-run blast that helped the Gnats defeat the R-Braves 6-2. (Photo by Fred Devyatkin)

Savannah, GA - The Sand Gnats defeated the Rome Braves 6-2 Sunday afternoon at State Mutual Stadium to produce their first series sweep of the season. The Gnats were held to just one hit through five innings up against Atlanta Braves rehabber Mike Minor, but unleashed six runs across the eighth and ninth innings to seal the win.

The R-Braves (3-8) took the lead for the first time all series when a ground-rule double by designated hitter Joey Meneses plated third baseman Reed Harper in the first inning . Gnats starter Chris Flexen  then settled down for six and a third innings, allowing just two earned runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking just one batter.

Rehabbing Atlanta Braves lefthander Mike Minor pitched five scoreless innings allowing just one hit- a lone single to Savannah first baseman Dominic Smith. Minor saw success with Atlanta last season by minimizing walks with improved command going 13-9 with a career best 3.21 ERA . Today, Minor worked from behind in many counts but ultimately quelled the Gnats young lineup, allowing just one free pass.  

The Braves took the shutout into the eighth inning until centerfielder Patrick Biondi led off with a triple off of Braves reliever Andry Ubiera. Next , shortstop Gavin Cecchini singled home Biondi, who now leads the league with 10 runs scored. After a Jeff McNeil sacrifice bunt (his second sac-bunt in two nights) and an L.J. Mazzilli ground-out, Jared King walked to put runners on first and second. League slugging leader (.741) Stefan Sabol then doubled both runners home to give the Gnats a 3-2 lead. Ubiera was tagged with his first blown save and his second loss of the season.  

Just for good measure, the Gnats scored three more runs in the ninth inning off of Braves reliever Race Parmenter , including McNeil's first professional career home run. McNeil now leads the league in extra-base hits (7).

Reliever Akeel Morris earned his first win of the season by pitching the last two and two-thirds innings while adding another three strikeouts to his league leading 18.90 strikeout-per-nine-inning ratio.   

Today's win could give Savannah (7-3) sole possession of first place in the division if Greenville (6-3) falls to Kannapolis later this evening. The Gnats will look to continue their three-game winning streak against the GreenJackets by sending RHP Kevin McGowan (0-0, 5.40) to the mound on Monday to open a three game series in Augusta. First pitch at Lake Olmstead Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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