MOOSIC, PA - The Gwinnett Braves scored six runs in the first inning and held on late for a 7-4 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Tuesday night at PNC Field. With the win, the G-Braves took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Governors' Cup Championship Series.
All six runs in the first inning came against RailRiders' left-hander Jordan Montgomery. After a leadoff walk by Emilio Bonifacio and a one-out single by Ronnier Mustelier, Sean Kazmar Jr.blasted a three-run home run to left-center field for a 3-0 lead. Gwinnett then loaded the bases on two singles and an error. Braeden Schlehuber dropped a two-run single into shallow right-center and Bonifacio added an RBI single to right.
Montgomery (L, 1-1) who went 5-1 with a 0.97 ERA in six starts for the RailRiders during the regular season, allowed six runs - three earned - on six hits over just two thirds of an inning before exiting.
G-Braves' right-hander Aaron Blair, making his second rehab start for the Atlanta Braves, was sharp over the first seven innings as he held Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to just a run on Jake Cave's second-inning solo homer. But Blair would load the bases on two singles and a walk before exiting in the eighth.
Jason Hursh came on and allowed all three inherited runners to score, cutting Gwinnett's lead to 6-4. Kyle Higashioka lined a two-run single to right, and Cave added an RBI single through the hole at second base. Hursh (H, 1) regrouped and got Cito Culver to pop out to Schlehuber behind the plate to end the inning.
The G-Braves added an insurance run in the ninth against right-hander Johnny Barbato. Kazmar Jr. and Mel Rojas Jr. each laced one-out singles and Tyler Moore punched an RBI double down the right-field line to make it 7-4.
Maikel Cleto (S, 2) came on for the bottom of the ninth and allowed a single and a walk, but struck out Donovan Solano to strand runners at second and third and end the game.
Blair (W, 1-0) lasted 7.1 innings with four runs - all earned - on six hits. He walked three and struck out five, throwing 68 of his 108 pitches for strikes. Hursh did not allow a run to his own line over two thirds of an inning, and Cleto pitched 1.0 scoreless inning.
Following Montgomery, five Scranton/Wilkes-Barre relievers combined to allow a run on seven hits over 8.1 innings.
Kazmar Jr. went 3-for-5 with his International League-leading third playoff home run and a game-high three RBIs. Rojas Jr. also had a three-hit night, going 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Cave went 3-for-4 with a double, homer and two RBIs for the RailRiders.
The G-Braves and RailRiders play Game 2 of the best-of-five Governors' Cup Championship Series on Wednesday night at PNC Field, first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Chris Ellis(1-0, 0.00 ERA in the postseason) will start for Gwinnett, while Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will counter with left-hander Phil Coke (1-0, 0.00 ERA in the postseason). Tony Schiavone and Dave Lezotte have the call on 97.7 FM beginning at 6:05 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves are offering a special ticket deal for the Governors' Cup Championship Series. Fans who purchase a $15 Infield Box ticket will also receive a FREE $10 food voucher! Plus, all fans will receive a FREE Foam Tomahawk to help cheer the G-Braves on to victory!
Tickets for Game 3, as well as Game 4 (if necessary) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Game 5 (if necessary) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office. Call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.
# # #
The Gwinnett Braves are the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Follow the G-Braves at GwinnettBraves.com, facebook.com/GwinnettBraves1 and twitter.com/GwinnettBraves. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.