PEARL, MS -- After a tough 11-1 loss in game one, the Mississippi Braves (33-34) responded with a dominant performance on the mound and clutch hitting to defeat the Montgomery Biscuits (35-32) Thursday night at Trustmark Park. It was a battle of talented right-handers that saw the M-Braves and Mike Soroka
PEARL, MS -- After a tough 11-1 loss in game one, the Mississippi Braves (33-34) responded with a dominant performance on the mound and clutch hitting to defeat the Montgomery Biscuits (35-32) Thursday night at Trustmark Park. It was a battle of talented right-handers that saw the M-Braves and Mike Soroka (8-3) come out on top 4-1.
Atlanta's No. 4 prospect entered tonight's game with back-to-back shutout wins, fifteen straight scoreless innings, but Mike Soroka had not faced the best hitting team in the Southern League. Now he has. The talented hurler tossed seven scoreless innings en route to a league-best eighth win of the season. Soroka scattered three hits and a walk across his seven innings, striking out five as well.
At no point did the Biscuits get two men on base in the same inning against the righty and only once did a runner pass second base. In the second inning, Grant Kay laced a one-out triple over the head of Ronald Acuña Jr. in right field. Faced with an opportunity to buckle, Soroka simply fanned the next batter on four pitches before getting a weak ground-ball out to end the inning. That was the most pressure Montgomery put on the 19-year-old All-Star. With his performance, Soroka saw his ERA drop to 2.23, third-best in the league for starters.
In relief, lefty Jessie Biddle recorded his second save of the season, pitching the eighth and ninth. Biddle gave up the lone run in the ninth on the second Biscuit triple of the game, this one by Justin Williams, that scored the speedy Braxton Lee from first. The lefty responded by striking out the next two batters to end the game. Biddle was touched for a run on two hits, with a walk and two strikeouts.
Offensively, the M-Braves were again held at-bay for most of the game. Greg Harris took the mound for Montgomery and was as good as a pitcher can be in a loss. Harris went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He also walked three and struck out seven.
The scoring started in the third, when Connor Lien slapped a single to left. After stealing second, Lien took third on a fly ball by Levi Hyams. With the infield drawn in, Keith Curcio snuck a slow roller past the pitcher, allowing Lien to beat the throw from second to the plate and give the M-Braves their first lead of the series. That was all the home team could muster until the seventh when Travis Demeritte led off with a ground-rule double to left-center. Three batters later, Dylan Moore made it 2-0 with an RBI-single up the middle. That was the end for Harris, and in relief, Jordan Harrison got out of the inning with no more damage.
In the eighth, the Braves sent the top of the order to the plate looking for insurance. Curcio and Acuna led off with back-to-back singles and moved to second and third with a Luis Valenzuela sacrifice bunt. Again, with the infield in, the M-Braves found a way to score without the ball ever leaving the infield grass. Demeritte slapped a ball up the middle, allowing the speedy Curcio to beat the throw home. Jared James then roped a single into center, scoring Acuna and giving Mississippi a comfortable 4-0 lead they would not relinquish.
With the series tied, game three is set for a 7:00 PM Friday at Trustmark Park.
WP: Soroka 8-3
LP: Harris 3-6
SV: Biddle 2