BILOXI-- For the second time this season, Jacob Nottingham came through in the clutch for the Biloxi Shuckers, as the 21-year-old catcher notched another walk-off hit to send a crowd of 4,271 home happy on Saturday night at MGM Park. The 2-1 victory over the Tennessee Smokies gives Biloxi a 2-1 series advantage and sends the club back to 10-games over .500.
Kyle Wren (3x5, R) started the winning frame with a single through the right side of the infield for his third hit of the night. Tyrone Taylor (1x4) laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the mound, but Juan Paniagua (0-2) booted the ball, allowing all hands to be safe. Brett Phillips (1x3, R, BB) sacrificed the runners over, leading to Nottingham's game winning single down the left field line to plate Wren.
The fans in the seats endured a one-hour, 41-minute rain delay on Saturday night to witness a marquee pitching matchup between Josh Hader for the Biloxi and Paul Blackburn for the Tennessee, and the two hurlers did not disappoint, as the duo combined to allow just one run in the Shuckers' 2-1, walk-off win.
Biloxi missed out on early scoring chances in the first two innings, as both frames started with the first two batters reaching base.
With the Shuckers trailing 1-0, Wren and Taylor singled to start the bottom of the first, but a strikeout by Phillips, a fly out off the bat of Nottingham to left, and Wren getting picked off at second base ended the early threat.
Nick Ramirez (2x3, BB) singled to lead off the second and advanced 90 ft. when Javier Betancourt (0x2, 2 BB) reached on an error by Carlos Penalver. Chris McFarland (0x3) grounded out to Blackburn to move the runners up a base, but back-to-back strikeouts by Nick Shaw (1x4) and Hader left a zero on the scoreboard for the inning.
Tennessee came out aggressive against Hader, stringing together three consecutive one-out singles to plate the first run of the game in the first.
Blackburn retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced on the night, and finished with four hits allowed and issued a walk to go along with four strikeouts.
Hader worked efficiently on the mound for Biloxi, as the southpaw tossed a season-high six innings and allowed just one run to cross the plate on four hits, a walk and five punchouts. The Maryland native set down 16 of the final 18 batters he faced after giving up a single to Mark Zagunis in the first.
Biloxi trailed by that lone run going into the eighth, but a bases-loaded walk to pinch hitter Garrett Cooper (0x0, RBI, BB) by Starling Peralta brought home Phillips to knot the game at one apiece.
Due to tonight's long rain delay fans may exchange tonight's ticket for a ticket of equal value, based on seating availability, for any future 2016 regular season, non-restricted home game which excludes July 4. Exchanges are accepted exclusively at the MGM Park Box Office.
The Shuckers will go for their fifth consecutive series victory with a win on Sunday afternoon at MGM Park. RHP Javi Salas (2-1, 2.82) takes the hill for Biloxi, while Tennessee counters with RHP Tyler Skulina (1-1, 5.12). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.,