JACKSONVILLE, FL - Atlanta Braves right-hander Kevin Gausman dealt a quality start on Thursday night, and the Mississippi Braves (9-12, 42-48) took down the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (10-10, 39-51) in ten innings, 3-1 to open the six-game set. The series-opening win pushed the M-Braves record to 8-3 against the Marlins affiliate.
Drew Waters finished 3-for-5 on the night and is now tied for the Minor League Baseball lead with 118 hits on the season. The 20-year-old now has 34 multi-hit games on the season and is on a record-breaking 184-hit pace.
Gausman, placed on Atlanta's Injured List on June 11 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, made his second minor league rehab start and first for Mississippi. The 28-year-old gave up just one unearned run on three hits over 6.0 innings, issuing no walks and striking out three. Seventy-five of Gausman's 92 pitches were strikes. Gausman has allowed three earned runs over 11.0 innings in his two rehab starts.
Jacksonville's lone run against the former fourth overall pick in 2012 came in the bottom of the fifth inning. Stone Garrett reached on an errant throw by M-Braves shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder, and after a single by Corey Bird, Garrett scored on a groundout from Santiago Chavez.
Gausman allowed single baserunners in the first, second, and third, but retired the side in order in the fourth and sixth innings. He didn't have a strikeout until the fifth inning but ended up fanning three of the final five batters to end his outing.
Offensively for Mississippi, Thursday night's opener was a game of missed opportunities until late. The M-Braves stranded 11 runners on base through seven innings but finally did cash in during the seventh. Pinch-hitter Daniel Lockhart was hit by a pitch to start the inning then Cristian Pache and Drew Waters each singled to load the bases. Riley Unroe hit a sacrifice fly scoring Lockhart to tie the game at 1-1. Jacksonville starter Jorge Guzman settled for a no-decision as well but tossed 6.0 shutout innings in his third start against Mississippi.
The game went to extras tied 1-1, and the Braves rallied for two runs in the top of the tenth to take their first lead of the day. Greyson Jenista hit a double to the gap in right-center placing runners at second and third with nobody out. Bonus runner Ryan Casteel scored to make it 2-1 on an RBI groundout by Carlos Martinez. With Alejandro Salazar at the plate, Jenista broke from third base to the plate for a suicide squeeze when an expecting Jacksonville pitcher Tommy Eveld (L, 1-3) made a pickoff throw to third. The relay home was wide, and Jenista stole home to put Mississippi up 3-1. The steal of home was the first for an M-Brave since Dylan Moore swiped home on June 25, 2017, at Biloxi.
Jonathan Aro, Jordan Harrison (W, 2-2) and Jason Creasy (S, 2) combined for 4.0 shutout innings of relief behind Gausman, to preserve the win. Harrison pitched 2.0 scoreless for the win, and Creasy earned his second Double-A save and first since April 16.
The M-Braves and Jumbo Shrimp play game two of the six-game series from Jacksonville on Friday night. LHP Tucker Davidson (3-6, 2.04) brings his league-leading ERA into his 18th start and will face Miami Marlins top prospect RHP Sixto Sanchez (3-3, 3.48). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm CT with coverage beginning at 5:50 pm CT on 103.9 WYAB, First Pitch App, TuneIn Radio App, and MiLB.tv (subscription required).
The M-Braves return to Trustmark Park for one more homestand this month, July 18-21 against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Visit mississippibraves.com for tickets or call 888-BRAVES4.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.