JACKSON, TN - The Mississippi Braves (27-32) battled back twice to win game one of the five-game series against the Jackson Generals (34-27) on Friday night, 7-6. The score reversed Thursday night's 7-6 loss to Biloxi at Trustmark Park.
The first meeting of 2019 between the Braves and Diamondbacks affiliate saw the lead change hands four times with Mississippi ultimately coming out on top. The M-Braves faced off against 36-year-old Marlins legend Ricky Nolasco and had success against the Marlins' all-time quality starts and wins leader.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the first three Braves batters reached on hits to start the second inning. Riley Unroe and Carlos Martinez hit back-to-back singles, and Luis Valenzuela brought home Unroe on a double down the left field line to tie the game. Starting pitcher, Joey Wentz hit a comebacker to Nolasco that let Martinez score, and the Braves led 2-1.
Jackson tied the game in the third inning against Wentz at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by All-Star catcher Daulton Varsho. Wentz dealt 3.0 innings and threw 79 pitches on Friday night, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts in his 12th start.
Tyler Neslony belted a 408 foot home run off of the right-field scoreboard placing the M-Braves on top for the second time at 3-2. Ray-Patrick Didder reached on an error to begin the fourth inning and proceeded to steal second and third base. With one out, Greyson Jenista hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Didder to push the lead to 4-2. The RBI was the 2018 draft pick's first at the Double-A level.
Andres Santiago took over for Wentz in the fourth inning and had two clean innings before running into trouble in the sixth. Santiago walked three Generals and surrendered an RBI groundout to Andy Young and RBI single to former seventh overall pick Pavin Smith to tie the game at 4-4. Santiago did not finish the frame and was ejected by home plate umpire Jonathan Parra.
Jonathan Aro (W, 3-0) took over for Santiago and finished the sixth inning, but gave up the go-ahead run on a single by Varsho. Jackson led 5-4 after seven innings.
Martinez and Didder drew walks from Jackson reliever Matt Brill (L, 0-3) in the eighth inning and Martinez came into score when Cristian Pache was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game. Jenista added a two-out RBI single scoring Didder the Braves took their third lead of the game at 6-5.
Mississippi added a big insurance run in the ninth inning on an RBI double by Unroe. The 23-year-old switch hitter collected three hits and scored two runs on Friday night to lead the offense once again. Neslony added the other three-game for the M-Braves
Josh Graham entered the game in the eighth inning making his team-leading 21st appearance and struck out the side. In the ninth, he added his fourth straight strikeout, but then yielded a double to Hernandez. After an error, Hernandez scored on an RBI groundout to make it 7-6. Graham finished the game off and just allowed the unearned run, saving his sixth game of the season and his first since May 15.
The M-Braves stole a season-high five bases on Friday night, getting two from Neslony and Didder and another by Pache. Drew Waters was hit by a pitch in a pinch-hit at-bat in the eighth inning, so his on-base streak stretched to 15 games.
The M-Braves will look to take a 2-0 series advantage on Saturday night in Jackson, TN. LHP Tucker Davidson (2-4, 1.82) starts for the M-Braves against RHP Bo Takahashi (4-2, 3.12). First pitch is set for 6:05 pm with coverage beginning at 5:50 pm on 103.9 WYAB, TuneIn Radio, MiLB First Pitch app. and MiLB.TV (subscription required).
The M-Braves return to Trustmark Park to close out the first half, June 12-16 for six games in five days against the Mobile BayBears.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.