LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Gwinnett Braves third baseman Pedro Ciriaco dealt the final blow at the stroke of midnight in a back-and-forth battle with the Durham Bulls (1-1) to give the G-Braves (1-1) a 5-4, 11-inning win Friday at Coolray Field.
Ciriaco's single to right field off of Durham righty Bryce Stowell (L, 0-1) was his fourth hit of the night and scored Cedric Hunter, who entered the game three batters prior as a pinch runner after catcher Braeden Schlehuber led off the inning with a single to right field.
Ciriaco also saved the G-Braves from defeat two innings earlier when his two-out, two-strike single to center field tied the game at 4-4.
Durham took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the ninth on two hits, an error, a walk and a hit batsman combined off of left-hander Brady Feigl (H, 1) and right-hander John Cornely (BS, 1; W, 1-0). Cornely entered with two outs in the inning after Feigl exited with an apparent injury. He gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Joey Butler, but then set the Bulls down in order in both the 10th and 11th innings.
The G-Braves entered the final frame with a 3-2 lead thanks to a three-run sixth inning during which they scored their first runs of the season.
Atlanta Braves' No. 1 prospect, second baseman Jose Peraza, led off the inning with a single and came around to score three batters later when designated hitter Adonis Garcia singled to left field. Ciriaco and Garcia later scored on back-to-back errors by the Bulls' middle infielders.
All three of Gwinnett's runs came off of Bulls left-handed reliever Jim Patterson, who took over for left-handed starter Everett Teaford. The G-Braves managed three hits off of Teaford in his 5.0 innings of work with a walk, a hit batsman and a strikeout. Schlehuber accounted for one of the three hits with the G-Braves' first extra-base hit of the year when he laced a two-out double down the third-base line. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk.
Left-hander and Braves' No. 12 prospect Manny Banuelos started for the G-Braves but labored through the first inning, throwing 38 pitches. However, he held the Bulls to one run on a single and two walks. Durham second baseman Ryan Brett scored the run on the first of Banuelos' two wild pitches in the inning.
Durham scratched across another run in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Left fielder Eugenio Velez led off the inning with a triple on a line drive that got past Gwinnett right fielder Eury Perez when he attempted to make a diving catch. Velez came in to score two batters later on a fielding error by Ciriaco on a grounder hit to his left by Brett.
The Bulls threatened again the fourth with runners on the corners after a two-out walk to shortstop Hak-Ju Lee ended Banuelos' night. Right-handed reliever David Carpenter struck out Brett to end the threat and keep the G-Braves within two runs of the lead. Banuelos finished with two runs allowed (one earned) on three hits, four walks and two wild pitches with three strikeouts.
Carpenter did not allow a hit in his 2.1 innings of work and struck out three. Left-hander Donnie Veal (H, 1) then struck out one batter during his hitless seventh, and right-hander Aaron Kurcz (H, 1) worked around a hit and a walk with a strikeout in the eighth. The pitching staff combined for 12 strikeouts but also walked eight.
The Gwinnett offense totaled 12 hits. Along with multiple-hit performances from Ciriaco (4-for-6, 2 RBIs) and Schlehuber, center fielder Todd Cunningham went 2-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and a run scored, and Garcia ended the night 2-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI.
The G-Braves and Bulls will play the third game of their series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Coolray Field. Right-handed starter Williams Perez will make his G-Braves debut, while Durham will counter with righty Matt Buschmann. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM.
The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive 2015 Gwinnett Braves magnetic schedules, and a fireworks display will follow the game. To purchase tickets, call the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
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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.