Jackson, Tenn. - Yet again, it was Tyler O'Neill coming through with a huge hit as the Generals took down the Mississippi Braves 6-4 in game one of the Southern League Championship Series Monday night in Jackson. With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth inning, O'Neill lined a two-run double into left to give Jackson the lead for good. The Generals now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Championship Series.
The game was tied at three runs apiece heading into the eighth inning. Akeel Morris (1-1, 10.80) walked Adam Law to start the bottom half and Ian Miller sacrificed Law into scoring position. With first base open, the Braves opted to intentionally walk Benji Gonzalez to put two on. Morris struck out Tim Lopes, but a passed ball allowed both runners to move into scoring position.
With first base open and two outs in the frame, Mississippi opted to pitch to Tyler O'Neill. The Southern League MVP made them pay, ripping a two-run double down the line in left to break the tie. Dario Pizzano followed with an RBI double of his own to make it 6-3.
The lead stood in the ninth, as Matt Anderson (S, 2) picked up his second save of the postseason. Connor Lien led off the inning with a triple before scoring on a groundout, but Mississippi got no closer than two runs.
Brandon Sisk (2-0, 2.70) earned his second win of the postseason. The 31-year-old lefty pitched 1.1 innings without allowing a run, making his third appearance in five playoff games for the Generals.
Andrew Moore turned in a strong start for the Generals, allowing just two runs over six innings. Mississippi struck first with a two-out rally in the top of the third. With nobody on, Dylan Moore singled and Mallex Smith slapped a double down the left-field line to bring Moore in from first.
Down 1-0, the Generals missed an opportunity with the bases loaded and nobody out in the third before coming through in the fourth. After Braves' starter Michael Mader walked Ryan Casteel to start the inning, Leon Landry drove a triple to center to tie the contest. Two batters later, Adam Law's sacrifice fly brought Landry home and the Generals had a 2-1 lead.
The lead grew to two runs in the fifth. The Generals loaded the bases on a pair of singles and an error, and Tyler Marlette drove O'Neill home with a single to right field that made it 3-1. That ultimately knocked Mississippi starter Michael Mader out of the game after 4.2 innings.
Mississippi fought back to tie the game with runs in the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, Carlos Franco doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Joey Meseses. In the seventh, the Braves got a pair of one-out singles against Aaron Brooks before a Mallex Smith groundout knotted the contest at three.
The victory gives the Generals game one in the Southern League Championship Series, putting the team two wins away from a title. Jackson is 4-1 in the postseason so far, and Tyler O'Neill has had the game-winning hit in three of the team's four wins. In five playoff games, he is 9-for-20 with three home runs, a double and eight runs batted in.
The offense has come alive of late, with 25 hits over the last two games. The Generals had 10 hits in Monday's win, with four knocks going for extra-bases. O'Neill, Tyler Marlette and Ian Miller each had a pair of hits in the victory.
Game two of the Southern League Championship Series is Tuesday night at 6:05 pm CT. This is the last chance for fans to see the Generals at The Ballpark at Jackson in 2016! Brett Ash (12-8, 4.46) goes for his second win of the playoffs against Braves' pitching prospect Sean Newcomb (8-7, 3.86). You can catch all the action on the TJ Network (AM 1390, FM 94.1) in Jackson and online via the TuneIn Radio App starting with the Pregame Show at 5:50 pm CT!
Get your tickets to see championship baseball in Jackson by calling the team at (731) 988.5299, stopping by the box office at The Ballpark or going online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.