PEARL, MS - Four games into the 2013 season it is abundantly clear - for now at least - that the Mobile BayBears and Mississippi Braves are very evenly matched. Sunday's matinee featured more good pitching, more opportunities squandered, and ultimately a second consecutive BayBears victory by a final score of 2-1.
It was the third one-run game of the series, and it was a win that Mobile starter Bradin Hagens (1-0) earned by tossing seven strong innings.
The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second in the only rough inning of Hagens's day. Back-to-back singles opened the frame, but Hagens settled down, retiring two in a row before reaching the bottom of the lineup. A walk to Mycal Jones loaded the bases, but the walk seemed to be almost by design as it brought the pitcher Gus Schlosser to the plate for his first professional at-bat. Hagens, however, momentarily lost the strike zone, and he walked the Mississippi hurler to force home what would turn out to be the Braves only run.
From there Hagens was dominant. Over his final five innings of work he allowed just two hits - both singles - and finished his outing by retiring 10 in a row and 14 of 15 overall. Working with catcher Rossmel Perez, Hagens finished the afternoon with three strikeouts, and just the one earned run allowed.
The BayBears offense got started in the fifth, when a one-out single by Ender Inciarte preceded a Jon Griffin RBI groundout. The run was the only one allowed by Schlosser, who was working himself out of trouble all afternoon. In his five innings of work he was able to strand six of seven baserunners allowed.
Mobile took the lead for good in the seventh inning when Mike Freeman scored on a Griffin single, and that lead would stand up thanks to quality late inning work from Steve Garrison and Eric Smith.
Garrison inherited two runners in scoring position with one out in the 8th, and he got three-hole hitter Christian Marrero to fly out to right before striking out Kyle Russell to end the inning.
Smith worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save in his first save chance, and the BayBears were able to pull even in the series prior to Monday night's finale. The series has been light on offense, with the Braves outscoring the BayBears 11-10 through four games.
Derek Eitel will get the start for Mobile in Monday's rubber match against Gary Moran for the Braves. First pitch is set for 7pm, and the game can be heard live across the BayBears Broadcast Network.