NORFOLK, VA - An RBI single by Johnny Giavotella in the bottom of the ninth gave the Norfolk Tides (16-23) a 5-4 win over the Gwinnett Braves (21-17) on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of their three-game series at Harbor Park.
Giavotella's heroics spoiled a comeback by the G-Braves, who trailed 4-0 heading to the eighth inning.
For the most part, the game was a pitching duel between starters Sean Newcomb of Gwinnett and Jordan Kipper of Norfolk. The first run did not cross the plate until the bottom of the sixth, when Giavotella hit a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded off Newcomb to give Norfolk a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Joel De La Cruz now pitching for Gwinnett, the Tides extended the lead. The Tides' second run of the game scored on an RBI double by Drew Dosch and then Giavotella smacked a two-run single to center, doubling the Norfolk lead to 4-0 after seven.
Trailing 4-0, Gwinnett began its comeback in the top of the eighth. Emerson Landoni punched a one-out single to right off Tides reliever Andrew Faulkner. A single by Ozzie Albies moved Landoni to third and Xavier Avery followed with a booming two-run double off the wall in left, scoring both Landoni and Albies to trim the Tides lead to 4-2. Norfolk opted for Edwin Jackson out of the bullpen, and Mel Rojas Jr. greeted him with a single to left, scoring Avery to make it 4-3 Tides.
The G-Braves finally caught up with Norfolk in the top of the ninth against Tides closer Jimmy Yacabonis. David Freitas led off with an infield single and was replaced by pinch runner Matt Tuiasosopo . A wild pitch moved Tuiasosopo to second, and then Blake Lalli hit a ground ball to first which went between the legs of Norfolk's David Washington for an error, allowing Tuiasosopo to score the tying run.
But in the bottom of the ninth, the G-Braves brought in Mauricio Cabrera from the bullpen and he immediately got into trouble by giving up a leadoff double to right to Dosch. A ground out to second by Logan Schafer moved Dosch to third. After Henry Urrutia walked, Giavotella ended the game with an RBI single to right on a 3-0 pitch from Cabrera.
Newcomb went 5.1 innings with three hits, one earned run, two walks and six strikeouts. De La Cruz worked 1.0 inning with four hits, three earned runs, one walk and two strikeouts. Akeel Morris pitched 1.2 innings with three strikeouts. Cabrera (L, 1-1) went one third of an inning with two hits, one earned run and one walk.
Kipper worked 7.0 innings with four hits, one walk and one strikeout. Faulkner pitched one third of an inning with three hits, three earned runs and one strikeout. Jackson (H, 1) went two thirds of an inning with one hit and one strikeout. Yacabonis (BS, 2) worked two thirds of an inning with two hits, one earned run and one walk. Vidal Nuno (W, 1-1) picked up the win by pitching the final third of an inning with one strikeout.
At the plate, Albies was 2-for-4 with a run. Freitas also went 2-for-4. Avery was 1-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
The Tides were led by Giavotella who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Dosch went 3-for-4 with two doubles, three runs scored and one RBI as the Tides claimed the series finale.
After taking two of three at Harbor Park, the Gwinnett Braves will begin a four-game series in Durham against the Bulls on Thursday night. RHP Patrick Weigel (0-0, 3.86) will get the start for the G-Braves against Durham's Yonny Chirinos (3-0, 2.45). First pitch from Durham Bulls Athletic Park is set for 7:05 p.m. Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM "The Other Side of the River" beginning at 6:35 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field on Tuesday, May 23 for a seven-game homestand. Game one of a three-game series vs. the Buffalo Bisons begins at 7:05 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.