ALLENTOWN, PA - In a back-and-forth offensive battle, the IronPigs dropped game one against the Gwinnett Braves 9-8 on Friday night, despite a big effort from IronPigs catcher Sebastian Valle.
With the Pigs in an early 4-0 hole, Valle knocked in three of his five RBI with his second homerun of the season, cutting the G-Braves lead to one. In the catcher's next at-bat he gave the Pigs a 7-6 lead with a 2-RBI double down the left field line, scoring OF Leandro Castro from first base.
Lehigh Valley would carry an 8-7 lead into the ninth inning, but former IronPig Derrick Mitchell led off the final frame with his third homerun of the game, tying the game at eight each. Gwinnett would plate one more in the inning, giving them the 9-8 lead that they would hold on to.
The IronPigs did threaten in the ninth with 3B Maikel Franco and 1B Jim Murphy singling in the inning, but both runners would be left in scoring position when a linedrive off the bat of OF Tyson Gillies found its way into the glove of G-Braves left fielder Joey Terdoslavich to end the game.
OF Tyler Henson continued his hot-hitting ways with two more base knocks, including his tenth double of the season. The IronPigs ultra utility player has now had three consecutive multi-hit games and 12 hits over his current six-game hitting streak, including three homeruns and four doubles. The native of Oklahoma also tallied his seventh stolen base of 2014, more than halfway to his total of 13 a season ago.
Lehigh Valley starter LHP Greg Smith had his least-effective outing of 2014, giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits - including two of the Mitchell homeruns - in five innings pitched, but still left the game in line for the win with the Pigs up 7-6. The Louisiana native's ERA rose over 3.00 for the first time this season after the outing (3.19), but he still has only one loss in his career at Coca-Cola Park (7-1).
IronPigs newcomer RHP Ken Giles made his IronPigs debut after being called up earlier on Friday, and impressed the crowd with his high-90s fastball. The 23-year-old would go on to allow one run on one hit and one walk in one inning pitched, striking out one G-Brave.
Game two of this four-game set is scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:35, with RHP Barry Enright taking on LHP Ian Thomas on Hockey Night at Coca-Cola Park.