LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Matt Tuiasosopo doubled three times, including an RBI two-bagger in a three-run first inning and the Gwinnett Braves (26-34) held on late for a 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (32-27) on Wednesday night at Coolray Field.
Gwinnett saw its season-long seven-game losing streak come to an end and can split the four-game series in Thursday’s finale.
Tuiasosopo doubled in the first, sixth and eighth innings and now has four doubles over his last two games. The G-Braves’ right fielder is up to 16 doubles on the year, ranking third in the International League.
The G-Braves hit three straight doubles with one out in the first against Lehigh Valley starter Severino Gonzalez (L, 0-1) to jump on top. Emilio Bonifacio dumped a two-base hit down the left field line and scored when Erick Aybar laced a double over the first base bag. Aybar raced around on Tuiasosopo’s double into right-center and after a strikeout, Reid Brignac capped the inning with an RBI single.
That would be enough for Joel De La Cruz, who cruised through 5.0 innings of relief following starterShae Simmons. De La Cruz held the IronPigs to just three hits and a walk while striking out three in his longest outing of the season. He was the beneficiary of two double plays turned behind him, both started at first base by Brignac.
Simmons, making his fourth MLB rehab start for the G-Braves, yielded a walk in the first, but Anthony Recker threw out Nick Williams trying to steal second to end the frame. Simmons hasn’t allowed a run while registering eight strikeouts in 4.0 innings with Gwinnett.
After notching four hits in the first against Gonzalez, Gwinnett managed just four more the rest of the night, singles from Ozzie Albies and Jace Peterson and Tuiasosopo’s two doubles.
Lehigh Valley got on the board in the eighth against reliever Stephen Janas as Logan Moore crushed a solo home run over the IronPigs’ bullpen in right field. Janas (H, 1) allowed one run on two hits and a walk over 2.0 innings of relief, including a single to open the ninth to Taylor Featherston.
Lefty Dario Alvarez (H, 1) came on to relieve Janas and struck out J.P. Crawford and got Williams to bounce back to the mound before Jose Ramirez (S, 2) needed just one pitch to retire Darin Ruf and end the game.
Tuiasosopo, who doubled and homered in Tuesday’s loss, is the first G-Brave to record three doubles in a game since Christian Bethancourt accomplished the feat on July 27, 2015 vs. Durham.
The teams conclude the four-game series Thursday afternoon at 12:05 p.m. in the first of two Belk Daycare Days. The G-Braves will send right-hander Ryan Weber (0-2, 2.89) to oppose right-hander Zach Eflin (5-1, 3.14) for the IronPigs. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 11:35 a.m.
Tickets for Thursday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.