Charlie Morton dominated before Josh Burrus sparked an eighth-inning rally Friday as Mississippi overcame Montgomery, 8-3, in Game 2 of the Southern League South Division Finals.
Morton shut out Montgomery through six innings and allowed just two hits before surrendering a run in the seventh while striking out eight. Sung Ki Jung (1-0) fanned three and survived a game-tying homer in the eighth to pick up the win. With the series knotted at 1-1, both teams will grab a bus to Montgomery for a crucial Game 3 on Saturday.
"It was a good team effort overall," said Morton. "I wasn't really nervous, it was more of a drive to help my team win. It wasn't really nerves but more of the adrenaline flowing. It all worked out."
With the game knotted in the eighth, the Braves scored five times to take control. Carl Loadenthal doubled, Diory Hernandez was hit by a pitch and T.J. Bohn sacrificed both runners over to set up Burrus. He bounced a chopper off the plate to shortstop Reid Brignac, who fielded the ball but rushed and threw wildly to first, allowing both runners to score. Van Pope hit a two-hopper that skipped over Brignac's head to score Burrus and Matt Young. Clint Sammons capped the rally with an RBI double.
"[Burrus] is extremely clutch," said Morton. "Compared to the rest of the guys, he doesn't get as many at-bats. He was in the four-hole earlier in the season and he stepped up and did his job. He's an extremely talented hitter."
Burrus, who batted fifth, hit .287 with runners on and .279 with runners in scoring position during the regular season. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and is hitting .600 in the series.
"I know he's been struggling a little bit, but I think he's an extremely talented individual," said Morton. "He stepped up today and did the job."
Montgomery pinch-hitter Sergio Pedroza smacked a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth. It was only the second Double-A pitch Pedroza saw this season. The 23-year-old hit .286 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs in 116 games for Class A Advanced Vero Beach.
"They've an outstanding hitting team," Morton said. "They can change the game with one swing of the bat, and they did."
Morton also praised Jung, who settled down after the home run to close out the win in the ninth.
"We gave him some runs, and he went back out and did what he needed to do," he said. "He came back and got us to the end."
Morton, who made only six starts in 41 outings this season, had the Braves in position to win after the seventh.
"I felt pretty good, the first few innings were going by pretty well and I got into a groove," said Morton, who went 4-6 with a 4.29 ERA. "Sometimes I can find that [groove] and sometimes I can't. Tonight it was there. I made some pitches and got away with a couple balls that were hit real hard."
"I felt pretty confident out there with what I was throwing," he added. "And that's what helps me a lot."
The 23-year-old right-hander said he was on a pitch count but was not sure if he had reached it in the seventh when he left with a 3-1 lead.
"Early on, I was throwing a couple sliders for balls, and I established a curve pretty early," he said. "First couple innings, I was getting ahead with the fastball a lot and missing with changes, but I got all my pitches working late in the game."
Morton, who allowed one run in seven innings in his last start against Birmingham on Aug. 28, said he wasn't tired in seventh but noticed the hitters had taken a different approach.
"Anybody would like to go as far as they can in game, but at that time, it's the decision of the coaches," he said. "It wasn't really like, 'Man I'm tired.' You kind of noticed it, their response to the pitches. I guess you have to bear down, and I got some ground balls to end the seventh."
The Biscuits got on the board in the seventh when Chris Nowak doubled and scored on consecutive groundouts.
Biscuits reliever Brian Henderson (0-1) failed to record an out while allowing two runs on one hit. Starter Jacob McGee gave up three runs -- two earned -- on five hits while fanning six and walking one in five frames.
"To a certain extent, this team has given us trouble all year," Morton said. "We're going to their field and everybody seems to be talking about how it's in their favor. They're a great team, but it's a good thing that we [won] in the fashion that we did. It was impressive to watch in the end."