The Gwinnett Braves (5-4) won their fourth straight game and stopped the Durham Bulls' (7-2) four-game winning streak with a 6-4 come-from-behind win on Friday night in game one of their three-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The game saw two young starting pitchers battle early; Lucas Sims of Gwinnett and Ryan Yarbrough of Durham. Durham had taken the first lead on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first from Casey Gillaspie. But the G-Braves came right back to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the third as catcher David Freitas, who had earlier doubled, scored from second when Durham left fielder Jake Bauers dropped a fly ball hit by Sean Kazmar Jr.
Durham surged ahead in the bottom of the fourth as Bauers led off with a double to right off Sims and Michael McKenry drew a two-out walk. Curt Casali (1) then drilled a three-run homer to right to send the Bulls to a 4-1 lead.
However, the top of the sixth proved to be the difference in the game. Mel Rojas Jr. led off with a double to right-center off Yarbrough. The next batter, Matt Tuiasosopo singled to right, and when Durham's Dayron Varona misplayed the ball, Rojas was able to score from third to cut the lead to 4-2. On the error, Tuiasosopo ended up on second base. Rio Ruizthen hit a fly ball to right that Varona dropped for his second straight error. Tuiasosopo took third on the drop, and Ruiz ended up on second. Adam Brett Walker made the Bulls pay for the defensive miscues as he followed with a long double off the wall in left, scoring both Tuiasosopo and Ruiz to tie the game at 4-4. Lane Adams then cracked a single to right, scoring Walker for a 5-4 Gwinnett lead. Adams moved to second on a throwing error andKyle Kubitza ended the scoring with a triple to right, scoring Adams from second for a 6-4 lead, which the bullpen was able to hold.
Sims went 4.2 innings with three hits, four earned runs, two walks and eight strikeouts. Jason Hursh (W, 1-0) pitched 2.1 innings with two hits and two strikeouts to earn his first win of the season out of the bullpen. Jason Motte (H, 1) worked 1.0 innings with one hit and one strikeout in his second G-Braves game. David Hernandez (S, 2) worked a scoreless bottom of the ninth with one hit and one strikeout to earn his second save against the Bulls in less than a week.
Yarbrough (L, 0-2) went 5.0 innings with 10 hits, six runs (three earned) and nine strikeouts. Ryne Stanek pitched 1.2 innings with one hit and two strikeouts. Diego Moreno worked 2.0 innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
At the plate, Walker was 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one run scored. Tuiasosopo went 2-for-5 with one run. Ozzie Albies was 1-for-5 with his fourth double of the season to increase his hitting streak to eight games.
For the Bulls, Casali was 2-for-4 with a run and a three-run homer. Bauers and Willy Adames each had two hits.
The G-Braves and Bulls meet in game two of the three-game series Saturday night in Durham. Left-hander Andrew Albers (0-0, 0.00) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against Durham right-hander Chase Whitley (0-0, 3.00). First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:05 p.m.
Gwinnett returns home on Tuesday, April 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game vs. Rochester. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.