Thomas Jankins didn't look like a pitcher who jumped straight from Single-A Wisconsin to the Southern League. Instead, the former Quinnipiac Bobcat seemed right at home at Riverwalk Stadium, tossing 7.0 scoreless innings in his first start with the Biloxi Shuckers (3-1). Backed by home runs from Trent Grisham, Jake Gatewood and Dylan Moore, the right-hander cruised to his first victory as Biloxi blanked the Montgomery Biscuits (1-3) 8-0 on Sunday afternoon.
After giving up a leadoff hit in the first, Jankins immediately got a hand from his defense, forcing a groundball to third that turned into a double play. He polished off the inning with a bounce out to short by Brandon Lowe.
The Shuckers starter ran into some trouble in the second. Following a walk to Brett Sullivan and a wild pitch that allowed him to scamper to second, Jankins struck out Dalton Kelly and retired Andrew Velazquez on a groundout. With Sullivan on third, Jake Cronenworth weakly tapped a ball in front of home plate that Shuckers catcher Tyler Heineman scooped up and gunned to first, stranding the runner and keeping the shutout for Jankins.
The strikeout of Kelly in the second set off a string of seven batters in a row retired by Jankins and 13 of the next 14. He allowed a two-out single in the sixth, but struck out Ryan Boldt to end the frame. Returning for the seventh inning, Jankins worked around a one-out single by Sullivan, striking out the next two batters to end his day with authority. In 7.0 innings of work, the Shuckers starter gave up just four hits while walking one and striking out six.
Making sure their starter had plenty of run support, the Shuckers bats supplied offense early and often thanks to the long ball. Trent Grisham got the scoring started in the second, launching an opposite field home run with a man on base, his first of the season, to give Biloxi a 2-0 lead. Gatewood launched his first home run of the season in the eighth, a solo shot over the left field fence. Moore capped off the scoring in the top of the ninth with a two-out moonshot, pushing the lead to 8-0.
On two separate occasions, the bottom of the lineup supplied runs for the Shuckers. In the fourth inning, Moore singled and stole second before scoring on a double from the nine-hole hitter Jake Hager, pushing the Shuckers lead to 3-0. Moore delivered another big hit in the seventh, doubling to the left field corner to score Heineman. The Shuckers second baseman went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hager. Moore finished the day 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, two RBI, three runs scored, a stolen base and a walk. Erceg also turned in a multi-hit day, going 3-for-4 with a double, a RBI and a walk, his third multi-hit game of the season.
The final game of a five-game series against the Biscuits is on Monday night at 6:35 pm. RHP Cody Ponce (NR) toes the rubber against Montgomery RHP Eduar Lopez (NR). The game can be heard in Biloxi on Cruisin' 1240-AM and 100.9 FM, TuneIn Radio or the MiLB First Pitch app.
The Shuckers home opener is on Wednesday, April 11 at 6:35 pm against the Mississippi Braves. Single game tickets for the Biloxi Shuckers 2018 season are on sale now and can be purchased at the MGM Park box office or over the phone through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Season tickets, flex plans and group outings are also available and can be reserved by calling 228-233-3465 or visiting www.biloxishuckers.com.
ABOUT THE BILOXI SHUCKERS:
The Biloxi Shuckers are the Double-A Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Shuckers play at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. For more information please visit biloxishuckers.com and follow us on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook.com/biloxishuckers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.