JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp right-hander Chris Mazza struck out a career-high nine batters and allowed one run in six innings, but the Mississippi Braves scored seven runs in the final two innings for an 8-3 series-opening win in front of 5,007 on Mavericks Live and Budweiser Thirsty Thursday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Jumbo Shrimp (22-23 second half, 52-63 overall) took a first-inning lead against Mississippi left-hander Kolby Allard. Center fielder Braxton Lee hit a leadoff single to center field, and left fielder Austin Dean walked. A one-out passed ball allowed both runners to advance. When first baseman Dustin Geiger's ground ball was misplayed by third baseman Austin Riley, Lee and Dean scored for a 2-0 lead. Allard escaped the inning when center fielder Connor Lien threw out Jacksonville right fielder John Norwood at home plate on a single by catcher Rodrigo Vigil. Over the next five scoreless innings, Allard scattered three hits and finished with 10 strikeouts.
Coming off a career-long 8 1/3 innings a week earlier in Biloxi, Mazza extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings before Mississippi (13-31, 47-67) reached the scoreboard. In the fifth inning, Braves right fielder Connor Joe hit a leadoff single, went to second base on a wild pitch and to third base on a groundout. With two outs, second baseman Luis Valenzuela's infield single off Mazza scored Joe. Mazza finished with one walk and five hits against him. Jacksonville right-hander Esmerling De La Rosa had a perfect seventh inning, but Braves right-hander Mauricio Cabrera (1-0) allowed a run with consecutive walks to pinch hitter Kyle Barrett and Lee, a double steal and wild pitch.
The Braves began the eighth inning with five straight hits and a walk against right-hander Tyler Kinley (0-2). Left fielder Tyler Neslony had the game-tying single, and catcher Alex Jackson had the go-ahead double. Left-hander Jeff Kinley entered and allowed a sacrifice fly, before allowing three ninth-inning runs, including shortstop Dylan Moore's two-run homer. Right-hander Wes Parsons' two scoreless innings earned his third save.
UP NEXT: The Jumbo Shrimp continue their series with Mississippi at 7:05 p.m. Friday, when Jacksonville left-hander Matt Tomshaw (10-6) is scheduled to face Braves right-hander Mike Soroka (10-6). Fans may visit any participating NAPA AutoCare Center to get a FREE general admission ticket for the game, which will be followed by NAPA AutoCare Family Fireworks. The Jumbo Shrimp will wear red "Bold City" jerseys on Red Shirt Friday, and fans who wear red can save $1 per ticket at the box office, or donate the $1 to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Gates open at 6 p.m. for Miller Lite Happy Hour, presented in part by Wild Wing Café, with Miller Lite beer specials in the Craft Cave inside the third-base gate until 7:30 p.m. Sgt. Scampi, from local nonprofit K9s For Warriors, will again be the bat dog in the third inning.
ABOUT THE JUMBO SHRIMP: The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are beginning a new era of affordable family fun with the 2017 season presented by Community First Credit Union at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. With a new lineup of ticket and group options, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Jumbo Shrimp at (904) 358-2846 or visiting www.jaxshrimp.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.