PULASKI, Va.- The Danville Braves battled both Mother Nature and the Pulaski Yankees, but ultimately came up short on their three game road trip, losing twice. In between the two losses was a dominant 9-3 win that saw a resurgence of a Braves' offense that had struggled in recent days.
And ultimately, despite losing the series, there are plenty of positives to take from the road trip as the Braves begin a four game series at Legion Field with the Burlington Royals.
The opening game of the series was played in front of a large July 4th crowd of over 3,200 fans. The Braves scored first when Bradley Keller doubled and William Contreras crossed home plate in the top of the 4th, only to see the Yankees tie it up in the bottom half of the inning. Then in the 5th, Isranel Wilson went deep to give the Braves a 2-1 lead, but again the Yankees answered in the same inning to tie the game at 2. In the 7th, a double by Derian Cruz and a single by Contreras scored a pair of runs, but the Danville bullpen couldn't hold the lead. The Yankees scored twice in the bottom of the 7th off Zach Rice and Ryan Schlosser, tying the game yet again. Shortly after, the game would then be halted by a lengthy weather delay of over four hours. Once play resumed, the Yankees walked off in the 10th, 5-4, on a throwing error by Luis Mejia that allowed the winning run to score. It was the third walk-off loss for the Braves so far in 2017.
Wednesday night's game was a highly anticipated one, as the Atlanta Braves' 5th round draft selection, Bruce Zimmermann made his professional debut. He tossed a scoreless first inning, striking out two and surrendering a pair of singles on 26 pitches. Jaret Hellinger would replace him and would proceed to twirl five shutout innings himself. Wilson led off the game with a solo home run, his second in as many days, and the Braves' offense would regain its swagger with a 12 hit barrage of Yankee pitching, including a home run by Leudys Baez and a 3-RBI night by Griffin Benson. When the dust had settled, the Braves had built a 9-0 lead by the 5th inning and would ultimately win 9-3.
The series finale saw Danville's starter Connor Johnstone have his first rough outing of the year. Johnstone surrendered back-to-back home runs in the second inning to propel Pulaski (11-4) to an early 3-0 lead. Contreras took matters into his own hands from there, belting a 2-run home run in the 3rd as well as driving in a pair of runs in the 4th with a double. Pulaski would tie the score in the 4th, however, when Saul Torres hit his second home run of the evening after hitting just one in his first 28 career games. In the bottom of the 6th, Cutter Dyals would walk in a run with the bases loaded, and the Yankees would add an insurance run an inning later, winning by a final tally of 6-4. The Braves (8-7) have fallen to third place in the division, behind Pulaski and the streaking Bluefield Blue Jays, winners of seven straight.
It's a busy weekend at Legion Field for the Braves, who play host to the Burlington Royals for a 4 game set. On Friday night the gates will open at 5:45 for Mason Via, the next installment of the Danville Braves Community Concert Series presented by Danville Toyota. It's also a special night for the community, as the Braves will be giving away Bob Kitzmiller bobbleheads to the first 500 fans (one bobblehead per person). The bobbleheads are being given away thanks to Danville Toyota, DCC Educational Foundation, M&M Furniture, Piney Forest Health & Rehabilitation Center, and Safe Driving School of the Piedmont. Dilmer Mejia will get the ball for the 7:00 game. On Saturday, July 8th, once again the gates open at 5:45 for the Danville Braves Community Concert series presented by Danville Toyota welcomes Elliott Humphries to the stage. It's also Cancer Awareness Night at the ballpark, presented by Centra. The Braves' players and coaches will wear special uniforms that will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards the Centra Foundation and the Danville Cancer Association. Odalvi Javier will get the ball for the 4th time in 2017 for that 7:00 game. Sunday's 4:00 game will feature a baseball ice pack giveaway, courtesy of MedExpress, as well as once again being Virginia 529 day. One of the top pitchers in the Atlanta system, Kyle Muller draws the start for that afternoon's contest. Monday's series finale is Dollar Monday, with Bruce Zimmermann making his second start of the season that night at 7:00. And all weekend the Danville Braves continue to Map the App. Fans in attendance will have opportunities to win tickets to stadiums across the Appalachian League through various contests and drawings. To order tickets for this weekend, go to dbraves.com or call the Danville Braves office at 434-797-3792.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.