LAWRENCEVLLE, GA – The Gwinnett Braves (47-56) jumped on top early and took advantage of some shaky defense by the Indianapolis Indians (53-51) in an 11-2 victory on Tuesday night at Coolray Field.
Gwinnett scored twice in the first inning and three times in both the second and third innings to build an 8-0 lead against Indianapolis starter Trevor Williams (L, 6-5) and cruise to its sixth straight victory.
The G-Braves were aided by three Indians’ errors over the first three frames, each of which either directly or indirectly allowed runs to score.
After Reid Brignac walked and Mel Rojas Jr. doubled him in with one out in the first, catcher Jacob Stallings dropped the ball on a throw to the plate, allowing Rojas Jr. to advance to third. Hector Oliverafollowed with a sacrifice fly to put the G-Braves up 2-0.
With one out in the second, Gwinnett loaded the bases on a walk and two singles, the latter coming on a well-placed bunt by starter Chris Ellis for his first professional hit. After Emilio Bonifacio singled inSean Kazmar Jr. and Brignac struck out, Rojas Jr. singled to right where Josh Bell bobbled the ball, allowing Daniel Castro and Ellis to score, pushing the lead to 5-0.
The G-Braves chased Williams in the third, plating three more runs on a double, a walk and an error by third baseman Alen Hanson, before Bonifacio picked up a two-run single off reliever Josh Outman.
That would be more than enough insurance for Ellis (W, 2-4), who labored through 5.0 innings to pick up his second Triple-A victory. The right-hander allowed only one run on one hit, but walked five and hit a batter and threw 57 of his 97 pitches for strikes. But Ellis did register seven strikeouts, his most in a start since April 8 for Double-A Mississippi.
Brandon Cunniff, Jose Ramirez and Rob Wooten combined to yield a run on three hits over the final 4.0 innings for Gwinnett.
Kazmar Jr. laced a three-run, inside-the-park home run off center fielder Danny Ortiz’s glove in the sixth inning, his first homer since April 13 at Durham and third of the year. He and Bonifacio each had three RBIs for the G-Braves. Castro, Kazmar Jr., Michael McKenry and Rojas Jr. each scored twice for Gwinnett.
Ortiz hit a solo home run in the seventh for Indianapolis, which saw a four-game winning streak snapped.
The G-Braves and Indians will play the middle game of the three-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday night at Coolray Field. Right-hander Aaron Blair (3-3, 4.53) will pitch for Gwinnett against left-hander Steven Brault (2-4, 2.15) for Indianapolis. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.
Tickets for Wednesday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.