Mobile, AL - Behind a fine debut from new acquisition Joe Gardner, the Mississippi Braves took down the Mobile BayBears 6-2 on Wednesday night at Hank Aaron Stadium to stay in a tie for first and take the five-game set.
With Jacksonville's 10-6 win over Pensacola, the M-Braves (35-24; 74-54) made it a two-way tie for first in the South Division, dropping Mobile (33-24; 75-51) to a game back with 11 to play.
Gardner (2-2) picked up his first win as an M-Brave, having just joined the club from Independent ball earlier in the afternoon. He fired five shutout frames on five hits and two walks, striking out one. It's his second stint in the Southern League this year after going 1-2 with the Tennessee Smokies.
The Braves' bats provided an early cushion. Kyle Wren led off the game with a single off starter Clayton Richard, and Kyle Kubitza drove him home with a single for a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Daniel Castro hit a leadoff single, Gustavo Nunez walked and Gardner helped his own winning cause with a chopped single over third base to make it 2-0.
Mississippi doubled the lead with two more runs in the third frame. With one out, Cedric Hunter singled and Barrett Kleinknecht sent a mammoth home run over the left field wall, his second in as many nights and eighth of the season.
Andrew Robinson came on in relief for the sixth and seventh, and the BayBears broke through in the seventh for two runs. Dustin Martin hit a leadoff double and Gerson Montilla hit a triple to left-center for an RBI. Ryan Court grounded out to second to score Montilla and pull it to 4-2.
The M-Braves regrew the lead in the ninth with two insurance runs off reliever Kyle Winkler. Nunez and pinch-hitter Seth Loman drew walks, and a Wren single-his fourth of the day-drove in a run. Two batters later Kubitza singled to drive home Loman and make it 6-2.
Richard (0-2) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on ten hits and a walk over seven innings, striking out two.
Jorge Reyes and John Cornely each pitched a scoreless frame to help close out the M-Braves win.
The M-Braves wrap up the series with the BayBears with Thursday night's 7:05 PM CT finale from Hank Aaron Stadium. Right-hander Mitch Atkins (5-1, 3.68) takes the ball for the Braves against BayBears right-hander Archie Bradley (2-2, 3.47).
Listen live to Kyle Tait on the call beginning at 6:30 PM CT on 103.9 WYAB and online at MississippiBraves.com.
Mississippi Braves (35-24; 74-54) 6 R 12 H 1 E
Mobile BayBears (33-24; 75-51) 2 R 8 H 0 E
W - Gardner (2-2)
L - Richard (0-2)
Time - 2:56
Attendance - 717
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.