Mobile, AL - First baseman Tom Belza homered twice and drove in four runs for the Mobile BayBears on Saturday night, erasing an early deficit for a 5-3 win over the Mississippi Braves at Hank Aaron Stadium.
The second homer was the game-clincher. With the Braves (9-6) leading 3-2 in the seventh inning, Belza hit a Victor Mateo offering over the right field wall for a three-run home run, sending the BayBears (9-7) to a 5-3 lead.
M-Braves starter Jason Hursh took a no decision after a quality start, allowing just two earned on five hits in six frames, striking out three and walking two. It was his longest outing of the season, and he left with the lead intact but Mateo (0-1) suffered the loss and blown save after Belza's seventh inning heroics.
The Braves built up a 3-0 lead against BayBear starter Gabriel Arias (3-0) early. Matt Lipka led off the game with a double, extending his hit streak to nine games. After a Daniel Castro sacrifice bunt, Rio Ruiz drove him home with an RBI single.
In the third, the Braves tacked on two more for a 3-0 lead. Lipka reached on a leadoff error by the shortstop, and Castro made it 2-0 with an RBI double, extending his hit streak to 16 games, seven shy of the M-Braves' team record set at 23 games by Tommy La Stella in 2013.
Three batters later, David Rohm stepped in with men on the corners and one out, rolling one to second on which the BayBears could only get the force at second. Castro scored and the M-Braves took a 3-0 lead into the middle innings.
Hursh had a no-hitter going into the fourth inning when Belza came up for the second time, hitting a 1-0 pitch just fair down the right field line for a solo home run, his first of the year. Mobile made it a one-run game in the sixth, racking up three straight singles, including an RBI infield knock by third baseman Raul Navarro to pull it to 3-2.
Arias threw seven innings in the win, allowing three runs-one earned-on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Enrique Burgos (S, 6) picked up his league-leading sixth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Braves and BayBears play the second of five games on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 PM CT at Hank Aaron Stadium, with right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (1-1, 1.35) set to take the hill against Mobile right-hander Aaron Blair (1-1, 4.58). Listen live beginning at 1:30 PM CT on the flagship home of the Mississippi Braves, 103.9 WYAB, and online at MississippiBraves.com.
Mississippi Braves (9-6) 3 R 6 H 0 E
Mobile BayBears (9-7) 5 R 8 H 1 E
W - Arias (3-0)
L - Mateo (0-1)
S - Burgos (6)