JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp right-hander Trevor Richards struck out seven batters in five innings, but Birmingham Barons right-hander Michael Kopech struck out 11 batters in seven innings of a 2-1 Barons win over the Jumbo Shrimp in front of 7,231 on Saturday of Superhero Weekend at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Following ceremonial first pitches that included one by former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell as the American Civility Association 2017 Kindness Hero of the Year, Richards (3-4) kept a scoreless start until the top of the second inning. Barons left fielder Courtney Hawkins doubled to right field, and third baseman Trey Michalczewski hit a two-run home run to center field, giving Birmingham (18-24 second half, 44-67 overall) a 2-0 lead.
Kopech (8-7) retired the first eight Jacksonville batters, before left fielder Kyle Barrett singled to right field with two outs in the third inning. A wild pitch, walk to center fielder Braxton Lee and right fielder Austin Dean's infield single loaded the bases. But third baseman David Vidal lined to second baseman Toby Thomas to end the threat.
In the top of the fourth inning, Richards allowed baserunners on a wild-pitch strikeout and single before two strikeouts, an intentional walk, and his fourth strikeout of the inning - one shy of the 53-year-old Southern League record. He pitched one more inning before right-hander Tyler Higgins went three shutout innings and right-hander Clayton Mortensen pitched one.
Jacksonville (20-22, 50-62) scored in the fifth inning, as catcher Rodrigo Vigil hit a leadoff single, went to second base on a passed ball and scored on Lee's two-out single. Kopech retired the next seven batters, including three strikeouts in the seventh. Left-hander Colton Turner got one out, and right-hander Jack Charleston got the final five outs for his second save.
UP NEXT: The Jumbo Shrimp continue their series with Birmingham at 3:05 p.m. Sunday, when Jacksonville left-hander Dillon Peters (2-2) is scheduled to face Barons left-hander Jordan Guerrero (7-9). Gates open at 2 p.m. for Baptist Health Sunday Family FUNday, when families can play catch on the field before the game, and fans can visit a Jumbo Shrimp player autograph booth. After the game, kids 12 and under can run the bases. Free face painting, balloon animals, and kids crafts activities will be in the Wolfson Children's Hospital Kids Zone. On Superhero Weekend, the Jumbo Shrimp will wear Aquaman-themed jerseys that will be auctioned during the game to benefit the Baptist Health Foundation, for both Baptist Health and Wolfson Children's Hospital. Auction winners will go on the field after the game to receive the jerseys from the players. For Southpaw's Birthday, mascots Billy The Marlin, Jaxson DeVille, Chum, DJ The Dog and Mr. Biggs are gathering to celebrate Jacksonville baseball's top dog. The game is also presented by Channel 4 The Local Station.
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.