LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - The Gwinnett Braves (71-71) finished the 2017 season with a .500 record thanks to a dominant pitching performance from Manny Barreda and a home run from Ronald Acuna in a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls (86-56) on Monday afternoon at Coolray Field.
Over 7.0 masterful innings, Barreda (W, 3-1) gave up just two hits and three walks while striking out seven to earn the win in his final start of the season. Acuna's homer gave him all the support he would need.
In the bottom of the second, the G-Braves broke through against Bulls' starter Hunter Adkins (L, 0-1). Walks to Kyle Kubitza and Matt Tuiasosopo put runners on base with two outs. Acuna delivered the big hit for Gwinnett by launching a three-run home run 399 feet the other way to right field. The homer was Acuna's ninth with Gwinnett and 21st overall this season, tying teammate Carlos Franco for the most home runs among Atlanta Braves' farmhands.
Adkins was sharp for the rest of his start, giving up just one more hit. He pitched 5.0 innings, yielding three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
But Barreda was the better starter on this day. Between the first and fourth innings, he retired 11 straight Bulls before a walk to Jake Bauers. In the fifth, Shane Peterson recorded Durham's first hit, a single to right field.
In the seventh, Peterson also recorded the Bulls' second hit off Barreda. With two outs and Johnny Field on first, he lined a ball off the wall in right-center. Acuna fielded the carom, fired to second baseman Sean Kazmar Jr., who made a perfect relay throw to the plate as catcher Sal Giardina tagged out Field trying to score to end the inning.
The out at the plate would prove to be the end of Barreda's start. In the eighth, Danny Reynolds gave up a leadoff double and walked a batter, but induced a fly out to center to end the inning with the Bulls still off the board.
In a last gasp at a comeback, the Bulls loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. But Gwinnett relief pitcher Rhiner Cruz (S, 5) induced a pop up to short from former G-Brave Michael McKenry to end the game, and the season.
Acuna led the way by going 2-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBIs for the G-Braves in the Labor Day victory.
For Durham, Peterson was 3-for-4 while relievers Brandon Lawson, Jose Alvarado, and Jeff Ames combined to pitch 3.0 scoreless relief innings.
Gwinnett Baseball returns for its 10th season in 2018, and will play under a yet-to-be announced new identity. Gwinnett opens the season on the road, playing at Norfolk on Friday, April 6. The 2018 home opener at Coolray Field is set for Thursday, April 12 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Rochester. Watch for all of the team's off-season announcements at GwinnettBraves.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.