LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Casey Kelly tossed seven scoreless innings and Emilio Bonifacio had three hits and an RBI to lead the Gwinnett Braves (8-2) to a 4-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides (2-7) on Saturday night at Coolray Field.
The G-Braves, off to their best 10-game start in the eight-year history of the team, now lead the International League South Division by 2.0 games over Durham.
Kelly (W, 1-0) turned in the fourth straight scoreless outing by a G-Braves starting pitcher, scattering four hits and a walk. He matched a career high with seven innings for the first time since July 9, 2011 for Double-A San Antonio of the San Diego Padres’ organization. The right-hander threw 58 of his 87 pitches for strikes and was the beneficiary of two double plays.
Norfolk did not collect a base hit until the top of the third, when former G-Brave Paul Janish lined a two-out single to center. Kelly did not run into trouble during his outing, allowing only one runner to reach second base.
Bonifacio spearheaded the offensive attack for Gwinnett, going 3-for-4 with two stolen bases. The speedy center fielder put the G-Braves up 3-0 when he dumped a single into shallow left field in the fifth inning, plating Brandon Snyder. Bonifacio is batting .450 since joining the G-Braves and has a team-high five stolen bases in his first five games.
Gwinnett scored twice in the fifth against former G-Brave Terry Doyle (L, 0-1) as Ronnier Mustelier led off the frame with a triple to center and scored on a single by Snyder. Mustelier went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two runs scored, while Snyder went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The G-Braves pounded out 11 more hits against Norfolk after posting 13 hits on Friday night and nine on Thursday.
Kelly’s flawless start, combined with a scoreless inning of relief from Joel De La Cruz pushed Gwinnett’s scoreless-innings streak to 27.1 entering the ninth. But Christian Walker crushed a solo home run to left-center off Ian Krol to lead off the final inning, putting Norfolk on the board for the first time in the series. The left-handed Krol regrouped to retire the side.
Walker’s home run was his lone hit of the evening and former G-Brave Joey Terdoslavich went 2-for-2 with two walks for the Tides. Janish also collected two hits for Norfolk.
Gwinnett will look to sweep the Tides on Sunday afternoon as right-hander John Gant (0-0, 4.91 ERA) opposes left-hander Ariel Miranda (0-0, 1.93) at 2:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 1:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.
Sunday’s game is the first “Bark in the Park” game of the season, as fans are permitted to bring their dogs with them to Coolray Field. It’s also “Sunday Funday,” allowing fans to play catch on the field prior to the game from 1:10 to 1:25 and kids 12 and under to run the bases after the game. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.