Behind another dominant start from Lucas Sims and a 14-hit offensive outburst, the Gwinnett Braves (19-16) defeated the Columbus Clippers (16-19) 6-2 in the finale of their three-game series in a Mother's Day matinee on Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field.
Sims held the Clippers scoreless over 6.2 innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out a season-high 10 (one shy of matching his single-game career record) to earn his fourth win of the season. Offensively, Xavier Avery finished a triple shy of the cycle and six G-Braves recorded multi-hit games as Gwinnett salvaged the final game of the series.
Sims (W, 4-0) was on his game from his first pitch. In the first inning, he allowed a one-out double but worked around it to keep the Clippers off the board. In the second, he issued a walk with two outs but he then proceeded to strike out Jeremy Lucas to end the frame.
In the bottom of the second, the G-Braves got Sims some run support and he never looked back. With runners on the corners and one out, Matt Tuiasosopo hit a fielder's choice ground out to score Rio Ruiz from third with the first run of the afternoon against Columbus starter Michael Peoples (L, 1-1).
The G-Braves would extend the lead in the third as Avery and Johan Camargo began the inning with singles to put runners on the corners. Mel Rojas Jr. followed with an infield single that deflected off the pitcher, scoring Avery with the second Gwinnett run. Later in the inning, Ruiz hit his second double of the game to score Camargo, and Sean Kazmar Jr. singled to score Ruiz, extending the lead to 4-0.
After Sims set the Clippers down in order in the third, the G-Braves again added to the lead in the bottom of the inning. With one out and one on, Avery crushed a two-run home run off Peoples to right-center, his third of the season, to extend the lead to 6-0.
Once Sims got the run support, he made sure the Clippers didn't cut into the lead. After the walk in the second inning, he retired the next 13 hitters he faced, six on strikeouts, before Chris Colabello led off the seventh inning with a single. After a strikeout and a fly out from the next two batters he faced, Sims was pulled from the game as Caleb Dirks entered from the bullpen. Dirks struck out Erik Kratz to end the inning and strand the inherited runner.
In the eighth, Dirks returned to the mound and pitched a scoreless frame to keep Gwinnett in front. In the ninth, the Clippers recorded a pair of runs off Mauricio Cabrera and had the tying run at the plate with one out. But Rhiner Cruz (S, 1) came out of the bullpen and recorded two straight strikeouts to end the game.
Avery went 3-for-4 with a double, homer and two RBIs to lead the G-Braves. Ruiz doubled twice as part of a 3-for-4 day, scored twice and tallied one RBI. Camargo, Rojas Jr., Kazmar Jr. and David Freitas all had two hits apiece.
For Columbus, Bradley Zimmer and Colabello each went 2-for-4 in the loss. Peoples allowed six runs on 13 hits over 6.0 innings.
The G-Braves begin a seven-game road trip on Monday night with a 6:35 p.m. matchup against the Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park. Gwinnett is set to send right-hander Matt Wisler (0-2, 4.94) to the mound against Norfolk right-hander Tyler Wilson (0-2, 4.50). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:05 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field on Tuesday, May 23 for a seven-game homestand. Game one of a three-game series vs. the Buffalo Bisons begins at 7:05 p.m. 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.