COLUMBUS, OH - The Gwinnett Braves (12-7) rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth and erased an early 2-0 deficit to edge the Columbus Clippers (7-11) by a 3-2 score on Wednesday night in game two of the four game series in Huntington Park, in Columbus, Ohio.
The G-Braves went to the top of the eighth trailing by a run, but timely hitting quickly turned things around. With the bases empty and one out, Columbus manager Chris Tremie decided to pull reliever Vinnie Pestano in favor of lefty Scott Barnes. The move backfired as Barnes walked Jose Constanzaand then gave up a double to left center to Phil Gosselin. The extra base hit scored Constanza to tie the game at 2-2. Tommy La Stella then delivered the go-ahead run with a single to center off of Barnes, scoring Gosselin and giving Gwinnett a 3-2 lead.
The Clippers made a game of it in the bottom of the ninth by putting runners on second and third with one out against Gwinnett closer Juan Jamie. However, Jamie got Justin Sellers to foul out for the second out and coaxed a fly out from Nyjer Morgan to preserve the win.
The game began like it did on Tuesday night, as Columbus jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. In the bottom of the first, Jose Ramirez greeted G-Braves starter Mitch Atkins with a double to left. Sellers followed with a single, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Morgan plated the first run with a sacrifice fly, while David Cooper plated the second run with a single to center, scoring Sellers for a 2-0 lead.
However, those would be the only runs the Clippers would score on the night as Atkins settled down and the bullpen took care of the rest.
Gwinnett's first run came in the top of the fourth against Columbus starter T.J. House. Prior to the frame, House was superb, retiring the first nine G-Braves batters in order. However, in the fourth, Constanza ended the run with a lead off infield single and moved to second on an infield single by Gosselin. La Stella grounded out to first, moving both runners into scoring position with one out.Ernesto Mejia then drove in Constanza with a groundout to third to cut the Columbus lead to 2-1.
Three and a half scoreless innings would follow until the G-Braves scored two in the eighth to claim the victory.
Atkins went 5.0 innings for Gwinnett. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs. He walked one and struck out three. Ryan Buchter worked a scoreless sixth with two hits. Wirfin Obispo (W, 2-0) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless bottom of the seventh with one strikeout. Atahualpa Severino worked the eighth with one strikeout, and Jamie (S, 5) picked up his fifth save in five attempts with a scoreless bottom of the ninth with one walk.
House went 6.1 innings for Columbus. He gave up five hits, one earned run, allowed one walk and struck out two. Pestano went 1.0 inning with two strikeouts. Barnes (L, 1-1) suffered the loss by giving up two hits and two earned run with one walk in no innings worked. Mark Lowe worked 0.2 of an inning with two strikeouts. Former Georgia Tech and North Gwinnett High School pitcher Blake Wood went 1.0 inning with one hit and two walks.
For Gwinnett at the plate, Constanza was 1-for-3 with two runs. Gosselin went 2-for-5 with an RBI. La Stella was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Mejia pushed his hitting streak to 11 games with a 1-for-4 night. He also recorded his team leading 23rd RBI of the season.
For Columbus, Ramirez was 3-for-5 and Sellers was 2-for-5.
The G-Braves and Clippers will play game three of the four game series Wednesday night in Columbus. Atlanta RHP Gavin Floyd (0-1, 4.00) is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start for Gwinnett. The Clippers will start RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-2, 7.56).