PEARL, MS -- Gustavo Nunez blasted a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th to lead the Mississippi Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Birmingham Barons Saturday night at Trustmark Park. With the win, the M-Braves maintain a one-game lead in the Southern League South Division race and also break the Braves record for wins in a single season.
Mississippi's (38-24, 77-54) previous single-season wins record was 76 which was set last season. The M-Braves scored six runs on 12 hits while Birmingham Barons (29-33, 58-74) scored five runs on 12 hits. Nunez's walkoff blast was his second homer of the season and second in as many nights-following last night's inside-the-parker.
John Cornely (7-3) worked two innings to pick up the victory. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three. Kevin Vance (6-4) took the loss, giving up the long ball to Nunez.
The M-Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Kyle Kubitza singled and scored on a Cedric Hunter double to left field, putting the Braves out front 1-0. Seth Loman then singled to drive home Hunter for the game's second run.
In the bottom of the second, Barrett Kleinknecht doubled to left field with two out. Matt Kennelly then drew a walk as Kleinknecht swiped third. Kyle Wren followed with a RBI-single to left, extending the M-Braves lead to 3-0.
Birmingham made it a one-run game in the fifth. Martin Medina walked and Michael Earley singled to start the inning. Both runners advanced on Adam Heisler's sacrifice bunt. Tim Anderson followed with a two-run single to center, cutting the Braves lead to 3-2.
Erik Castro singled to start the Braves half of the sixth. Kleinknecht then delivered a doubled to left field, plating Castro and extending the Braves lead to 4-2.
Birmingham responded in the top of the seventh. Heisler was hit by a pitch before coming around to score on an Anderson double to center field. Rangel Ravelo then singled to put runners at the corners. After a pitching change, Jason Coats delivered a game-tying single to left field.
Anderson led off the top of the ninth with a single. He then came in to score on a Dan Black double to center field, giving the Barons a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Kleinknecht walked and Kennelly reached on an error. Kyle Wren followed with a single to center, tying the game at 5-5 and ultimately forcing extra innings. The Braves managed the load the bases with two outs but a ground out to third ended the threat.
Neither starter factored in the decision. Greg Ross gave up two earned runs on six hits and two walks for the Braves. He struck out four batters in 5.2 innings of work. Mike Recchia worked five innings for the Barons, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six.
In game three of this five-game series, M-Braves right-hander Williams Perez (6-6, 3.18) counters Barons righty Terance Marin (0-0, 0.00). First pitch is slated for 5:00 PM. Gates open at 4:00 PM.
Birmingham Barons (29-33, 58-74): 5 R 12 H 1 E
Mississippi Braves (38-24, 77-54): 6 R 12 H 1 E
W: John Cornely (7-3)
L: Kevin Vance (6-4)