DURHAM, NC - A two-out, two-run single by Mel Rojas Jr. in the top of the ninth inning sent the Gwinnett Braves (7-4) to a 7-5 win over the Durham Bulls (7-4) on Sunday night in the finale of the three-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With the win, the G-Braves finished off a three-game sweep of the Bulls, won their sixth game in a row and pulled into a tie with Durham for first place in the International League South Division.
In the top of the ninth, with the game tied a 5-5, Durham reliever Adam Kolarek gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Blake Lalli and Xavier Avery. The Bulls replaced Kolarek with Ryne Stanek, and the right-hander walked Ozzie Albies to load the bases. After Sean Kazmar Jr. struck out for the second out of the inning, Rojas delivered the game-winning hit on the first pitch from Stanek.
The G-Braves had taken the first lead, scoring two runs in the top of the first off Durham starter Jacob Faria. One run came on an RBI single to center by Matt Tuiasosopo and the other on a two-out RBI single to left by Kyle Kubitza.
In the bottom of the first, the Bulls tied the game as Jake Bauers (1) hit a two-run home run to left off Gwinnett starter Aaron Blair.
In the top of the second, the G-Braves broke the 2-2 tie as a triple by Albies scored Avery from third to make it 3-2.
Gwinnett added a run in the top of the fourth as Lane Adams (4) crushed a solo homer to left off Faria for a 4-2 lead.
The G-Braves' lead went to 5-2 in the top of the seventh when Avery laced a one-out triple off reliever Yoel Espinal and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Albies.
Durham battled back with three runs in the seventh inning. Pat Leonard greeted Gwinnett reliever Caleb Dirks with a single to right, and back-to-back singles by Curt Casali and Mike Marjama scored Leonard to shave the lead to 5-3. Granden Goetzman followed with a one-out single to center, scoring both Casali and Marjama to tie the game at 5-5.
After a scoreless eighth inning, Rojas and the G-Braves came up with the win in the top of the ninth.
Blair pitched 6.0 innings with two hits, two earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts in his first quality start of the season. Dirks worked 1.0 inning with four hits, three earned runs and one walk. Sam Freeman (W, 1-0) went 1.0 inning with one strikeout. David Hernandez (S, 3) yielded a hit in a scoreless ninth.
For Durham, Faria pitched 5.1 innings, yielding six hits and four earned runs while walking one and striking out seven. Four Bulls' relievers combined to allow three runs over the final 3.2 innings, with Kolarek (L, 1-1) taking the loss.
The G-Braves were led offensively by Avery, who was 2-for-3 with a triple, three runs scored and two stolen bases to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Albies extended his hitting streak to an International League-best 10 games, going 1-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Rojas went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
For the Bulls, Casali was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Bauers was 1-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs.
After an off day on Monday, Gwinnett returns to Coolray Field on Tuesday, April 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game vs. Rochester. Left-hander Sean Newcomb (1-1, 4.66) will start for the G-Braves, while the Red Wings will counter with left-hander David Hurlbut (0-1, 0.00). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m.
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.