LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Gwinnett's first home run of the season at Coolray Field came at the perfect time, as Cedric Hunter's two-run blast with two outs in the ninth inning gave the G-Braves (7-11) a 6-5 win over the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (9-10) on Monday.
With Jose Peraza on third base after drawing a leadoff walk, Hunter drilled a 2-1 pitch from right-handed reliever Nick Rumbelow (BS, 3; L, 2-1) into the right-field bullpen for the team's third walk-off victory of the season. The win also ended Gwinnett's eight-game home losing streak to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre dating back to July 23, 2012.
G-Braves' left-handed starter and former RailRider Manny Banuelos went his deepest into a game since he returned from "Tommy John" surgery last season, but a rough second inning put Gwinnett behind 3-0.
Banuelos took 36 pitches to get through the second as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took a three-run lead. Austin Romine delivered the first blow with a one-out double to right-center field that followed a hit batsman and walk. Kyle Roller and Rob Segedin scored on the play, and Romine came around to score when Jonathan Galvez hit the team's second consecutive double.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre added a run in the fifth when Banuelos issued a leadoff walk to Nick Noonan, who scored two batters later on a single to center by Cole Figueroa.
Banuelos pitched 6.0 innings, his most since May 13, 2012 when he threw for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the Durham Bulls, and he exited with the G-Braves trailing 4-2. All four runs he allowed were earned, and he issued three walks and hit a batter to go with four hits allowed and three strikeouts in 91 pitches (49 strikes).
Gwinnett cut the initial 4-0 deficit in half with two runs on four singles in the fifth. Elmer Reyes and Sean Kazmar began the inning with back-to-back hits, and Matt Kennelly and Braeden Schlehuber drove them each in. A single from Eury Perez followed by a walk to Hunter loaded the bases, but RailRiders' right-handed starter Jaron Long struck out Adonis Garcia to end the threat.
Garcia, also a former RailRider, came through later in the game. He tied the score at 4-4 in the seventh with a two-run single to right field off of left-handed reliever Tyler Webb. Todd Cunningham started the two-out rally with a single to extend his hitting streak to eight games, and Hunter doubled to left field.
However, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre responded in the next half inning with a run off of right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs. Slade Heathcott led off the frame with a double to left field, Figueroa moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt and Rob Refsnyder doubled him home to give the RailRiders a 5-4 lead.
Right-hander Brandon Cunniff (W, 1-0) worked a scoreless ninth despite two hits and a walk, setting the stage for Hunter's heroics.
Hunter finished 2-for-4 with his second home run of the season and two RBIs for Gwinnett. Garcia went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, giving him a team-high 10 RBIs on the year. Perez went 1-for-4 with his International League-leading 11th stolen base. Reyes led all hitters, going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
For Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Romine was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
The G-Braves continue the three-game series against the RailRiders with a 6:35 p.m. game Tuesday at Coolray Field. Right-hander Williams Perez (1-0, 1.69 ERA) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett. The RailRiders have not announced their starting pitcher. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 6:00 p.m.
It's a "Two-For-Tuesday" at Coolray Field when all Infield Box and Field Box seats are two for the price of one. 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.