LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Jesse Winker ripped a two-out RBI single to push across the go-ahead run as the Louisville Bats (59-62) slipped by the Gwinnett Braves (53-66) 9-8 in 12 innings on Friday night at Coolray Field.
Former G-Brave Jose Peraza bunted Beau Amaral to second in the 12th against Carlos Portuondo (L, 1-1), and three batters later Winker picked up his only hit of the night to put Louisville ahead for the fifth time in the game.
Gwinnett threatened to tie the game for the second straight extra inning, loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the frame. But Rio Ruiz grounded out to second, ending the 4-hour, 43-minute marathon, the longest game played by the G-Braves this season.
The G-Braves sent the contest to extra innings by mounting a two-out rally against Kevin Shackelford in the ninth, plating the tying run when Matt Lipka walked on four pitches to make it a 7-7 game.
Both squads scored in the 11th, with Blake Lalli tying the score with an RBI single after Chris Berset put the Bats ahead with a run-scoring single of his own in the top half.
Louisville led 2-0 before Gwinnett chased Bats’ starter Rookie Davis by collecting five straight hits to open the fifth, the last of which was a two-run single by Emilio Bonifacio which put the G-Braves up 3-2.
But the Bats struck right back for four runs in the top of the sixth against reliever Chad Rogers, going ahead 6-3. Seth Mejias-Brean capped that rally with an RBI single for Louisville.
Sean Kazmar Jr.‘s two-run homer started a three-run rally in the seventh to once again tie the game, this time at 6-6.
Gwinnett starter Chris Ellis allowed two runs on four hits over the first 5.0 innings, but walked five and threw only 52 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
Mejias-Brean finished with a game-high three hits for Louisville and had a pair of RBI, while Amaral, Peraza and Hernan Iribarren each had two hits as part of a 16-hit attack for the Bats.
Kazmar Jr. homered and singled and was one of four G-Braves’ batters with two hits, while both he and Bonifacio tallied two RBIs. Bonifacio also stole his team-best 33rd base of the season.
The G-Braves and Bats continue the three-game series at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday night at Coolray Field. Righty Matt Wisler (1-1, 3.21) will pitch for the G-Braves against right-hander Robert Stephenson (6-9, 4.36) for Louisville. Dave Lezotte will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 5:35 p.m.
The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a bobblehead of former Atlanta Braves General Manager John Schuerholz, presented by Coolray Heating and Cooling. 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.