LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Mel Rojas Jr. finished a home run shy of the cycle, Tyler Moore crushed a grand slam in a six-run fifth inning and Chris Ellis struck out eight over 7.0 scoreless innings as the Gwinnett Braves routed the Columbus Clippers 11-1 on Friday night at Coolray Field. With the Game 3 victory, the G-Braves now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Governors’ Cup Semifinals.
After splitting the first two games of the series in Columbus, OH, Gwinnett roared out of the gates, scoring 10 runs on nine hits against Shawn Morimando (L, 0-1) to earn the first home playoff victory in team history.
Rojas Jr. touched home plate first for the G-Braves, scoring on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Sean Kazmar Jr. in the first inning. Morimando then uncorked a wild pitch to Rio Ruiz, allowing Ronnier Mustelier to score.
In the second, Rojas Jr. lofted a double to left field that Joey Butler couldn’t fully catch up with, as the ball bounced off his glove for a two-run double. Mustelier followed with an RBI single to make the score 5-0.
Ellis (W, 1-0) turned in his best start since a June promotion to Triple-A, spinning 7.0 innings of three-hit ball. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the fourth, and Columbus only got one runner into scoring position against him.
Moore helped put the game away in the fifth, crushing a 3-2 pitch from Morimando over the wall in left-center. It was the G-Braves’ first grand slam since August 20, 2014 when Donnie Murphy took Charlotte’s Jarrett Casey deep at Coolray Field.
Reid Brignac followed Moore’s grand slam with a solo home run of his own, marking the third time this season he’s been the second half of back-to-back blasts. He previously followed Chase d’Arnaud on May 1 vs. Columbus and Anthony Recker on June 14 at Lehigh Valley.
Rojas Jr. singled, doubled and tripled over his first three at-bats, scoring each time, before reaching on a single in his fourth at-bat in the sixth inning. He finished 4-for-5 with a stolen base and two RBIs to lead the Gwinnett offense. Brignac and Mustelier each had two hits as the G-Braves pounded out 12 in the game.
Ellis didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 17 starts for Gwinnett, and struck out eight while throwing 66 of his 102 pitches for strikes. Steve Kent allowed a run on three hits and a walk over the final 2.0 innings while registering four strikeouts for the G-Braves.
Guillermo Quiroz had two of Columbus’s six hits in the game and Morimando allowed 10 earned runs over 4.2 innings. T.J. House gave up Brignac’s home run as the lefty tossed 2.1 innings out of the Clippers’ bullpen.
The G-Braves and Clippers will play Game 4 of the best-of-five Governors’ Cup Semifinals on Saturday night at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. The G-Braves will start right-hander Tyrell Jenkins(9-3, 2.47) and Columbus will counter with righty Toru Murata (9-4, 3.78). Dave Lezotte and Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves are offering a special ticket deal for the Governors’ Cup Playoffs. Fans who purchase a $15 Infield Box ticket to any playoff game will also receive a FREE $10 food voucher! Plus, all fans will receive a FREE Foam Tomahawk to help cheer the G-Braves on to victory!
Tickets for Game 4 on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday’s Game 5 (if necessary) at 2:05 p.m. are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office. Call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.