LAWRENCEVILLE — Behind a timely hit from young catcher Kade Scivicque and a strong team pitching performance, the Gwinnett Braves defeated the Louisville Bats 3-1 in game two of the four-game series on Friday night at Coolray Field.
With the game scoreless and Louisville reliever Ariel Hernandez on the mound in the seventh inning, Scivicque lined a single to left with the bases loaded to score Dustin Peterson and Kyle Kubitza, giving the G-Braves (57-60) a 2-0 lead.
The Bats (46-71) cut it to 2-1 in the eighth on Tyler Goeddel’s RBI ground out off Matt Wisler, but the visitors would get no closer. In the bottom of the eighth, Carlos Franco’s infield single with the bases loaded plated Xavier Avery with the final run of the night as Gwinnett increased the lead back to two.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel between Gwinnett’s Aaron Blair and Louisville’s Jackson Stephens (L, 7-8).
In each inning he pitched, Blair surrendered at least one base runner, but was able to work around them. The biggest threat against him came in the sixth as the Bats put runners on the corners with one out. Blair then induced a shallow fly ball from Goeddel and struck out Adrian Nieto to end the frame with the game still scoreless. Over 6.0 innings, Blair gave up five hits and walked two while striking out three. He did not factor in the decision despite his ninth quality start of the year.
Stephens was just as good to start the game, but his luck would run out in the seventh. Rio Ruiz walked to start the inning and Peterson followed with a single to right to put runners on the corners. After the single, the Bats turned to Hernandez out of the bullpen. Three hitters later, Scivicque’s single gave Gwinnett the lead for good.
Jason Hursh (W, 3-4) pitched a clean top of the seventh to keep the game tied. Wisler (H, 2) yielded a run on two hits in the eighth, and Enrique Burgos (S, 2) retired the Bats in order in the ninth to finish Gwinnett’s second win in a row.
For the G-Braves, Franco was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk while Scivicque went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Ronald Acuna went 0-for-4 to snap his 10-game hitting streak.
Louisville was led by Hernan Iribarren, who went 3-for-4 at the plate while Brandon Dixon was 1-for-4 and scored the Bats’ only run. Stephens suffered his the loss after giving up two runs over 6.0 innings
The series continues with game three on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Right-hander Kris Medlen (1-5, 5.86 ERA) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against right-hander Luke Farrell, who will be making his Louisville debut.