LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Ronnier Mustelier drove home the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Gwinnett Braves (62-74) a 6-5 victory over the Norfolk Tides (59-78) on Monday night at Coolray Field.
The win, coupled with Charlotte’s 7-2 loss in Louisville, moved the G-Braves back into first place in the International League South Division. Gwinnett is a half-game ahead of the Knights (62-75) with seven games remaining.
After Norfolk reliever Pedro Beato (L, 5-5) struck out Braeden Schlehuber to open the ninth, Emilio Bonifacio and Reid Brignac collected singles to put runners on the corners for Mustelier. The G-Braves’ left fielder worked the count to 1-2 before hitting a high chopper to second base. The Tides’ infield was drawn in, but Corban Joseph’s throw home was late, giving Gwinnett its 15th last at-bat victory of the year.
Bonifacio and Brignac combined for seven of Gwinnett’s 13 hits on the night and scored three runs between them. Brignac went 4-for-5 with a double, run scored and an RBI, while Bonifacio was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs in the back-and-forth battle.
Gwinnett jumped on top in the bottom of the first when Mustelier drove in Brignac with a single. Audry Perez of Norfolk tied it in the second with an RBI single of his own.
Bonifacio and Brignac each registered RBI hits to build a 3-1 lead in the second, but Joseph put Norfolk ahead with a three-run home run off G-Braves’ starter Rob Wooten in the third.
Run-scoring hits from Schlehuber and Bonifacio gave Gwinnett a 5-4 lead in the fourth, which John Gant held up until the Tides drew level in the eighth.
A leadoff walk to Joseph was followed by a pair of strikeouts by Gant, but the right-hander was lifted forMaikel Cleto (BS, 2; W, 2-0), who yielded a game-tying RBI double to Michael Almanzar.
Cleto allowed a pair of hits in the top of the ninth, but wiggled out of trouble with two strikeouts and a groundout to pick up the win. Gant fired 3.2 innings of relief, yielding only two hits and a run while striking out five. Wooten surrendered four runs on six hits over 4.0 innings for Gwinnett.
Joseph went 2-for-3 with the homer, three runs scored and three RBIs and Xavier Avery picked up three hits in four at-bats for the Tides.
The G-Braves and Tides continue the three-game series on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Coolray Field. Left-hander Jed Bradley (2-0, 1.38) is scheduled to pitch for Gwinnett against right-hander Joe Gunkel (8-10, 3.78) of Norfolk. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.
It’s a Two-for-Tuesday night, as all Dugout seats are two for the price of one. Tickets for Tuesday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.