Behind a dominant pitching performance from one of their top prospects, the Gwinnett Braves (9-5) defeated the Rochester Red Wings (7-6) 3-0 in the rubber game of their three-game series at Coolray Field on Thursday afternoon.
Lawrenceville native Lucas Sims (W, 2-0), Atlanta's No. 18 prospect as rated by MLB.com, pitched seven scoreless innings for the G-Braves. He allowed just three hits and walked none while striking out five to earn his second win of the year. The win gave the G-Braves a series victory over the Red Wings, their first home series win of the season.
The day began as a pitcher's duel between Sims and Rochester's Nick Tepesch (L, 1-1), with little offense for the early portion of the game.
Leading off the bottom of the first for Gwinnett, Ozzie Albies extended his International League-leading hitting streak to 13 games with a single to left. Albies then stole second, but was stranded there as Tepesch retired the next three batters.
With one out in the second, Lane Adams extended his personal hitting streak to nine games with a single to right. He then stole second with Adam Brett Walker at the plate. Walker followed with a walk to put a pair of runners on base, but again Tepesch got through the inning unscathed by inducing a ground out from Emerson Landoni.
Between the first and fourth innings, Sims retired eight Red Wings in a row before allowing a single to Tommy Field with one out in the fourth. Sims stranded Field at first by inducing fly balls from the next two batters to keep the game scoreless.
After Sims recorded a pair of strikeouts in a clean fifth, the offense got him some run support. Landoni reached with a one-out single. Albies then hit a grounder to first that was misplayed by Rochester first baseman Ben Paulsen for an error, putting two runners on base. With two outs, Mel Rojas Jr. gave Gwinnett a 1-0 lead with a single to right, scoring Landoni from second.
Sims returned to the mound in the sixth and quickly retired the side. The next inning, he retired the first two batters he faced with just two pitches before striking out Paulsen to end his afternoon. In the best start by a G-Braves' pitcher on the young season, Sims retired the final eight batters he faced.
In the eighth, Rhiner Cruz entered for Gwinnett and got the first out thanks to an excellent defensive play from Adams in right field. On Niko Goodrum's fly ball, Adams made a leaping catch at the wall to take away an extra-base hit. After the next two Red Wings reached base, Sam Freeman entered from the bullpen and retired the only batter he faced on a fielder's choice. With two outs and the tying run at third, Jason Motte replaced Freeman and induced a fly out from Leonardo Reginatto to end the inning with Gwinnett still ahead by a run.
The G-Braves extended the lead in the bottom of the eighth against the Rochester bullpen as Matt Tuiasosopo walked and Rio Ruiz singled to put runners on the corners for Adams. The IL's RBI leader notched his 16th of the year with a ground out to short, scoring Tuiasosopo for a 2-0 lead. Later in the frame, Blake Lalli singled to right to score Ruiz from second and extend the advantage to 3-0.
In the ninth, Motte returned to the mound and retired the Red Wings in order to finish off the G-Braves' first shutout of the season and earn his first save with the club.
Adams led the way for Gwinnett by going 3-for-4 with two stolen bases and an RBI. Ruiz went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Neither team recorded an extra-base hit in the game.
The homestand continues for Gwinnett on Friday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Left-hander Andrew Albers (0-0, 1.42) gets the start for the G-Braves against right-hander Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 10.38) for the PawSox. First pitch at Coolray Field will be at 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.
Friday night's game is Atlanta United FC Night. Join the G-Braves as we celebrate Atlanta's new Major League Soccer team. The first 1,000 fans through the gate will receive an Atlanta United FC themed koozie. Gwinnett players will be wearing special Atlanta United FC themed jerseys that will be available for auction online following the game. 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.