LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Michael Choice hit a tie-breaking two-run double in the top of the ninth inning to power the Columbus Clippers (14-7) to a 4-1 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (13-10) on Friday night at Coolray Field.
Choice’s double off Gwinnett reliever Ryan Weber (L, 0-1) one-hopped the wall in right-center with one out in the ninth, scoring Joey Butler and Collin Cowgill. Anthony Recker added insurance with an RBI double scoring Choice.
Weber had wiggled out of a jam an inning earlier, keeping Columbus off the scoreboard in the eighth despite allowing a leadoff hit. He yielded a single to Michael Martinez, who promptly stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. But Weber got Erik Gonzalez to ground out, Jesus Aguilar to pop out and Giovanny Urshela to ground out, all to third baseman Rio Ruiz.
Gwinnett had fought back to tie the game in the sixth, when Matt Tuiasosopo doubled home Reid Brignac to knot the game at 1-1. Brignac had doubled to lead off the inning, his second double and third hit of the night.
Starter Casey Kelly was stellar in his third start for the G-Braves, equaling a career high with 7.0 innings while allowing just an unearned run on one hit. He walked a career-high six batters, but also struck out five in a 105-pitch, 63-strike outing. Kelly’s lone hit allowed was a leadoff single to Urshela in the second inning.
Columbus scored an unearned run off Kelly in the second. After Urshela’s single and a two-out walk to Cowgill, Kelly got Choice to ground to short, but Brignac booted it to load the bases. Recker followed with a bases-loaded walk scoring Urshela for a 1-0 lead.
Brignac picked up three of Gwinnett’s seven hits in the game, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. It was Brignac’s third consecutive three-hit game and fourth straight multi-hit effort. Tuiasosopo’s RBI was his team-leading 13th of the season. Levi Hyams recorded his first career Triple-A hit, a two-out single in the ninth.
Clippers’ starter Will Roberts allowed five hits and a run in 5.0-plus innings, walking one and striking out two. Jeff Johnson (W, 2-0) earned the win after allowing just one hit over 1.2 innings in relief.
For Columbus, Choice finished 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Recker went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
The G-Braves and Clippers play game two of the three-game series on Saturday night at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Williams Perez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start for Gwinnett against right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-0, 3.20 ERA) for Columbus. Tony Schiavone and Nick Green will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.
The first 2,500 fans will receive a bobblehead of G-Braves’ manager Brian Snitker, commemorating his 40th season with the Atlanta Braves organization. It’s also Amica Insurance Night and night two ofStrike Out Hunger! presented by Fifth Third Bank.
Tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.