LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Mel Rojas Jr. ripped a triple down the right-field line with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, lifting the Gwinnett Braves (32-40) to an 8-7 victory over the Indianapolis Indians (39-32) on Tuesday night at Coolray Field.
Rojas Jr., promoted from Double-A Mississippi earlier in the day, stepped to the plate with Emerson Landoni on first base following a fielder's choice. His first hit as a G-Brave scored Landoni all the way from first, sending Gwinnett to its second walk-off victory of 2016 and beating his former club, the Indians.
Blake Lalli (W, 1-0) who entered the game as a defensive replacement at first base, was moved to the mound in the top of the 12th. He threw 1.0 scoreless inning to capture his second career victory and first since August 18, 2008 with Advanced-A Daytona vs. Jupiter.
The four-hour, 18-minute marathon saw the G-Braves storm out to a 7-3 lead only to see it evaporate in the final three innings.
Rio Ruiz (4), Matt Lipka (1) and Matt Tuiasosopo (9) all homered off Indians' starter Justin Masterson as Gwinnett opened a 5-1 lead through five innings. After Indianapolis closed the deficit to 5-3 with two runs in the sixth, the G-Braves answered back with two runs on a Reid Brignac RBI fielder's choice and a run-scoring throwing error by Indians' first baseman Josh Bell to make it 7-3.
That lead wouldn't hold, however, as right-hander Kanekoa Texeira (H, 3) gave up three runs over 1.1 innings and exited with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the ninth. Right-hander Jose Ramirez (BS, 3) issued consecutive bases-loaded walks to pinch-hitter Dan Gamache and Max Moroff to tie the game at 7-7.
Left-hander Matt Marksberry worked out of jams in the 10th and 11th innings, but the G-Braves couldn't put together a rally against Indians' right-hander Rob Scahill, who worked 4.0 scoreless innings in relief.
Right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas (L, 0-1) took over for Indianapolis in the 12th and issued a leadoff walk to Anthony Recker, who was forced out at second on a bunt by Landoni before the hit by Rojas Jr.
Ozzie Albies led all hitters, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base for Gwinnett. Ruiz went 2-for-6 with the homer and two RBIs, and Tuiasosopo went 1-for-5 with the homer and two RBIs. Lipka's first career Triple-A homer was his lone hit in a 1-for-3 effort. G-Braves' starter Lucas Harrell yielded three runs (one earned) over 5.0 innings in a no-decision.
Moroff went 2-for-2 with a team-high three RBIs for Indianapolis. Bell and Pedro Florimon each went 2-for-5 with an RBI. Masterson was tagged for five runs over 4.2 innings before the bullpen worked 7.0 innings of three-run baseball.
The G-Braves and Indians play game three of the four-game series on Wednesday night at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Manny Banuelos (0-1, 4.02) starts for Gwinnett, while Indianapolis will counter with right-hander Tyler Glasnow (6-2, 1.75). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM beginning at 6:35 p.m.
Tickets for Wednesday's game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.
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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
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.