JACKSONVILLE, FL - C.J. Alexander and Ryan Casteel each homered twice on Wednesday, and the Mississippi Braves (23-22, 56-58) beat the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (25-20, 54-61) 8-2 to open a pivotal five-game series at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The pair of multi-homer games from Casteel and Alexander marked the first time in team history that two players have accomplished the feat in the same game.
Ray-Patrick Didder , Greyson Jenista and William Conteras all tallied multi-hit games in the 14-hit outburst on Wednesday night.
Didder and Riley Unroe reached to open the game, and with one out, Casteel sent the first of his two home runs over the left-field wall to give Mississippi a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Jenista singled but was caught stealing for the second out, and Contreras drew a walk ahead of Alexander. The Cape Coral, Florida native was 0-for-12 since returning to the M-Braves last week, but he connected on a Pablo Lopez (L, 0-3) fastball and sent it into the right-center field bleachers for his first Double-A homer. The two-run shot made it 5-0.
Connor Johnstone (W, 5-2) made his third start of the season for Mississippi and was handed a big lead right away. After posting three scoreless innings, the Jumbo Shrimp plated a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth inning on a double by Riley Mahan and single from Stone Garrett. In all, the right-hander from Atlanta matched a season-high with 5.0 innings of two-run baseball, scattering five hits while striking out three and walking one. Fifty of his 68 pitches went for strikes.
Casteel opened the fifth inning with his 19th home run of the season and second of the game. The 28-year-old first baseman finished 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBI, giving him 63 for the season, ranking third in homers and RBI.
Alexander stretched the advantage to 7-2 in the seventh inning with a one-out solo shot to right, marking the first multi-homer game of his career. The homer bounced off right fielder Stone Garrett's glove and hit a metal rail just over the wall. Contreras was 3-for-4 with a double and eighth-inning RBI single extending the Braves lead to 8-2.
Jonathan Aro , Jordan Harrison , and Bradley Roney combined for 4.0 shutout innings on four hits with eight strikeouts, and no walks behind Johnstone to finish off the impressive win.
Game two of the five-game set is on Thursday night in Jacksonville. RHP Jasseel De La Cruz (3-6, 4.15) will face off against LHP Daniel Castano (4-1, 3.35) for Jacksonville on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm CT with coverage beginning at 5:50 pm on 103.9 WYAB, TuneIn Radio, First Pitch App, and MiLB.tv (subscription required).
The M-Braves will return to Trustmark Park for an 11-game homestand in ten days against the Birmingham Barons and Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The homestand features Clunker Car Night and Thirsty Thursday on Aug.15, Austin Riley Kids T-Shirt Giveaway, and Post-Game Fireworks on Friday, Aug. 16 and another Post-Game Fireworks Show and Princess Night on Saturday, Aug. 17.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.