DJ Stewart hit a two-out, two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, powering Norfolk to a 3-1 win over the Gwinnett Stripers Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park.
With the score knotted at 1-1, Garabez Rosa ignited the game-winning rally with a two-out single off of Miguel Socolovich (0-1). Stewart then connected on the first pitch he saw with a long fly ball just inside the right field foul pole, giving Norfolk a walk-off victory in its first win of the 2018 campaign.
The home run was the first at the Triple-A level for Stewart, who entered the season ranked as the #13 prospect in the Orioles system according to MLB.com. Stewart, a first round pick of the Orioles out of Florida State in 2015, was one of just 10 players in all of Minor League Baseball to register 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases a year ago.
The late-inning heroics made a winner out of Andrew Faulkner (1-0), who struck out both batters he faced in the ninth inning. Four Norfolk relievers combined to fire four shutout innings out of the bullpen, allowing one hit while striking out five.
Norfolk starter David Hess, making his Triple-A debut, limited the Stripers to just three hits over five-plus innings of work. He struck out the side in both the first and fourth innings and finished with seven strikeouts on the afternoon, one shy of his career-high. The 24-year-old did not walk a batter and had faced one batter over the minimum before Tyler Smith opened the sixth inning with a solo homer to left field.
Gwinnett starter Matt Wisler took a no-decision after yielding one run on three hits over five innings. He struck out three without walking a batter, throwing 51 of his 81 pitches for strikes.
Jaycob Brugman tripled home Joey Rickard in the third inning for Norfolk's first run of the contest. Brugman and Rosa both finished with two hits on the afternoon.
The Tides will welcome the Charlotte Knights to Harbor Park on Monday for the start of a three-game set. Jayson Aquino is slated to make his season debut for Norfolk and will be opposed by highly-touted White Sox prospect Michael Kopech. First pitch is set for 6:35, with the game carried live on ESPN Radio 94.1 and MiLB.tv.
Notes: Saturday night's game, which was postponed due to rain, will be made up as part of a doubleheader at Harbor Park on Monday, June 11th at 5:05 pm…Norfolk pitching registered 12 strikeouts without walking a batter… Joey Rickard singled, walked and scored a run in the contest and is now hitting .400 (2-5) with two runs scored…Gwinnett outfielder Ronald Acuna, the top-rated prospect in baseball entering the season, went 0-8 during the two-game series.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.