BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Trailing by five late, the Birmingham Barons (21-32) late inning comeback fell one run short in an 8-7 loss Friday night to the Montgomery Biscuits (31-22) from Regions Field.
Down 8-5 in the ninth, Luis Robert and Ramon Torres led off with a single and double, respectively, before Yermin Mercedes grounded out to score Robert. Torres would come home to score on a wild pitch from Biscuits Tyler Zombro and make it 8-7. However, the comeback promptly ended moments later with a Ti'Quan Forbes strikeout to end the ballgame.
Tampa Bays No. 4 prospect Jesus Sanchez set the tone early, launching a two-out, 417-foot grand slam in the second inning off Barons starter Blake Battenfield. The slam put the Biscuits up early 4-0, a lead they would never relinquish.
Immediately in the bottom of the second, the Barons began to chip away. After singles from Blake Rutherford and Trey Michalczewski to start their half, Mitch Roman reached on a fielder's choice and drove in Rutherford from third to make it 4-1.
One inning later with runners on second and third, Rutherford singled to left center to score two. Even though he was thrown out at second trying to stretch a double, it put the Barons within a run at 4-3.
Trailing 8-3 in the eighth, the comeback began with a Gavin Sheets two-run, 400-foot mammoth homer run to deep right and off the batting cages. For Sheets, it was his second homer in as many days and raised his totals to five homers and 26 RBI.
The comeback effort got some wrenches thrown in it, though. Rays No. 10 prospect Lucius Fox led off the fifth with a triple and came home to score one batter later off David Rodriguez's sacrifice fly and make it 5-3.
The sixth inning wasn't kind to Birmingham, either. Nine-hole hitter Miles Mastrobuoni rewarded a Robbie Tenerowicz leadoff walk and a Kevin Padlo double with a two-run single to right to push the lead up Biscuits lead up to 7-3.
Montgomery followed suit with their parent Rays and used an opener to begin the game. Reliever Matt Krook started the game, going two innings and surrendering one run before turning things over to regular starter Kenny Rosenberg. Rosenberg went the next 5.2 innings, allowing four runs but earned his fourth win of the season. Zombro earned his second save.
It was Battenfield's toughest outing as a Baron, going five complete innings but allowing a season-high seven runs (all earned) and striking out just one Biscuit batter.
With Mercedes' walk in the first and single in the third, he has now reached base safely in 29 of his 32 games this season and has a hit in 25 of them.
The Barons will end the series with the Biscuits on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. from Regions Field. Left-hander Kodi Medeiros (0-6, 7.05) will make his ninth start as a Baron this season.
WJOX-AM 690 will be the home of the Barons on Saturday. Fans can tune into the Coca-Cola Pregame Show starting at 6:15 p.m.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.