LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Daniel Castro laced an RBI single with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Gwinnett Braves (64-75) to a 1-0 victory over the Durham Bulls (61-79) on Thursday night at Coolray Field.
With the win, the G-Braves increased their lead in the International League South Division to 2.5 games over Charlotte with four games remaining. The Knights (62-78) lost 13-9 to Norfolk earlier on Thursday.
Facing left-hander Adam Kolarek in the 11th, Matt Lipka singled up the middle and went to third on Mel Rojas Jr.’s double over the third base bag. Kolarek then walked Sean Kazmar Jr. to load the bases. With five infielders drawn in for Durham, Castro lifted a fly ball to left that dropped in for a single, giving Gwinnett its fifth “walk-off” win of the season.
The G-Braves won after failing to capitalize on a leadoff baserunner in the eighth, ninth and 10thinnings.
Stephen Janas (W, 3-2) tossed 2.0 innings of one-hit relief to earn the win, completing a two-hit shutout by five Gwinnett pitchers. It’s the second-straight shutout for the G-Braves, who also defeated Norfolk 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Atlanta Braves’ righty Williams Perez, making a rehab start, didn’t allow a hit over 5.0 innings and yielded only a third-inning walk to ninth-place hitter Jake Hager. Perez struck out seven and threw 42 of his 66 pitches for strikes.
Bradley Roney allowed Durham’s first hit of the night to Taylor Motter leading off the seventh, but worked around four walks and kept the Bulls off the scoreboard over 2.0 innings. Maikel Cleto andBrandon Cunniff tossed perfect innings for Gwinnett before Janas finished it out.
Rojas Jr. reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, and Castro went 2-for-5 with the game’s lone RBI. The G-Braves had 11 hits and left 13 runners on base while going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Hager walked twice and Dayron Varona picked up Durham’s other hit. Kolarek (L, 0-2) didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced in the 11th to suffer the loss.
The G-Braves and Bulls continue the three-game series on Friday night at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Wilfredo Boscan (6-8, 4.10) starts for Gwinnett against right-hander Jacob Faria (3-4, 5.15) for Durham. Dave Lezotte will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM beginning at 6:35 p.m.
Following Friday’s game, there will be the final Fox 5 Fireworks Friday show of the regular season. Tickets for Friday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.