LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Dayron Varona laced a two-out, two-run double to cap a three-run third inning as the Durham Bulls (8-6) slid past the Gwinnett Braves (10-4) 5-3 in the rubber match of a three-game set on Wednesday night at Coolray Field.
Varona finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, handing G-Braves’ starter Tyrell Jenkins his first defeat of the season and sending Gwinnett to its first series loss of 2016.
With one out in the third, Daniel Robertson singled and Taylor Motter drew a walk from Jenkins (L, 1-1). Richie Shaffer then rolled a grounder to first base and Tyler Moore tried to force out Motter at second. But the Gwinnett first baseman’s throw was wide, allowing Robertson to score to cut the G-Braves’ lead to 2-1. Two batters later, Varona doubled to the wall in left-center, putting the Bulls ahead for good.
Durham would add two more runs in the fifth against Jenkins, as Robertson doubled to open the frame and Motter walked before Shaffer doubled Robertson home. Nick Franklin provided the final cushion with a sacrifice fly.
Jenkins allowed five runs (two earned) over 6.0 innings, yielding eight hits while walking two. He struck out four and threw 97 pitches, 64 for strikes. The righty also registered two pickoffs, the first of the season for Gwinnett.
The G-Braves jumped on Durham starter Austin Pruitt in the first inning, as Chase d’Arnaud reached on a fielders’ choice and moved to third on a double by Reid Brignac before scoring on Moore’s sacrifice fly to center.
Ronnier Mustelier and Rio Ruiz opened the second with consecutive doubles, with Ruiz’s opposite-field hit plating his teammate and raising the lead to 2-0. In the first two innings of games this season, Gwinnett has outscored its opponents 26-5.
But Gwinnett wouldn’t get anything further against Pruitt (W, 2-0), who allowed six hits over 6.0 innings, struck out five and walked one.
The G-Braves got to Durham reliever Eddie Gamboa (H, 1) for an unearned run in the eighth, scoring when Robertson bobbled a Mustelier grounder to short and then threw wildly to first, plating Matt Tuiasosopo.
Tyler Sturdevant (S, 2) worked a perfect ninth inning for the Bulls. In addition to Varona’s multi-hit night, Jaff Decker went 3-for-5 while Robertson and Motter each scored twice.
Brignac and Ruiz each had two of the G-Braves’ seven hits, but the club went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Ruiz went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, boosting his average to .367 on the year. Brignac finished 2-for-4 with a double.
Gwinnett now hits the road for a three-city, eight-game road trip starting Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, NC. Game one of a two-game series against the Charlotte Knights starts at 7:05 p.m. The G-Braves’ starting pitcher has yet to be announced, while the Knights will go with right-hander Jacob Turner (1-0, 1.80 ERA). Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.
The G-Braves return home to Coolray Field on Friday, April 29 with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Columbus Clippers. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.