BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - For the second consecutive day a Barons designated hitter provided the pop in dramatic fashion to lead Birmingham to a late inning win. Following up Keon Barnum's performance yesterday, DH Nick Basto deposited an eighth inning pitch from Biscuits reliever Jose Alvarado in the back of Montgomery's bullpen in left-center field for a two-run home run to give the Barons a 5-4 lead.
"I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself," Basto said of his eighth inning at-bat. "I just wanted a good pitch to hit and it was a fastball middle-away, which was what I was looking for, and I ended up driving it."
The Barons got the scoring started early in the first inning, when LF Courtney Hawkins blasted his second home run in as many days, a two-run shot that hit the scoreboard in left field.
The home run came in support of starter Matt Cooper who turned in another strong outing in his second start of the season. Cooper, who in spring training was expected to be in the Barons bullpen, was pushed into the rotation due to the injury to Jordan Stephens. Cooper surrendered just one run in four innings for the second straight start and struck out seven while walking two. The righty now holds a 16:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season.
Cooper left the game with a 2-1 lead, but that would disappear in the sixth and seventh innings as the Biscuits combined to score three off of relievers Connor Walsh and Jace Fry, including a booming home run by RF Justin Williams in the seventh.
That set the stage for the eighth inning where the Barons scored three times to take the lead back for good. Hawkins inched the Barons to within one with a sacrifice fly and then Basto did the rest.
Reliever Brandon Brennan (1-0, 2.84) recorded the victory for Birmingham, while Alvarado (1-1, 5.40) took the loss and Robinson Leyer pitched a clean ninth for his first save of the season.
Sporting a two-game winning streak, the Barons will travel to Tennessee on Monday to begin a five game series with the Smokies. LHP Jordan Guerrero (0-1, 4.66) will look to build off of his strong start against Montgomery as he gets the ball for the Barons. RHP Zach Hedges (0-2, 5.40) is set to be on the mound for the Smokies. Curt Bloom will bring you all the action on 105.5 FM WERC and the iHeart Radio app, beginning with the Coca-Cola Pregame Show beginning at 5:50 p.m.
For ticket information, game schedule, promotions calendar or for additional information about Regions Field, call (205) 988-3200, or visit www.barons.com, www.facebook.com/birminghambarons or on Twitter: @bhambarons.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.