Sports

Resurgent Shuckers aim for playoff bid

Biloxi Manager Mike Guerrero greets first baseman Nick Ramirez after he hit a two-run homer during the first inning of their game against Mobile at MGM Park in Biloxi on Aug. 17, 2016.
Biloxi Manager Mike Guerrero greets first baseman Nick Ramirez after he hit a two-run homer during the first inning of their game against Mobile at MGM Park in Biloxi on Aug. 17, 2016. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

The second half hasn't always been kind to the Biloxi Shuckers, but they were in the middle of the postseason hunt headed into Tuesday night's home game against the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals.

The Shuckers' home finale is at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday night against the Generals at MGM Park.

The Shuckers' playoff hopes hinge on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos winning the Southern League South second half title, giving the Cincinnati Reds' affiliate both the first- and second-half championships.

The Blue Wahoos (34-29) sat a half game behind the first-place Mississippi Braves (34-28) following Monday night's action. If they overcome that deficit in the final week of the season, the team with the second best overall record will take on Pensacola in the Southern League South playoffs.

Headed into Tuesday night, the Shuckers (69-63) held a half game lead over the Braves (68-63) for the wildcard in the South Division.

Just being in the discussion is an impressive development for a Shuckers team that sat in last place and 11 ½ games out of first place less than two weeks ago.

After Monday's games, the Shuckers were 30-33 in the second half and 4 ½ games behind first-place Mississippi.

The Shuckers are 8-2 over the last 10 games while Mississippi is 2-8. Pensacola is 7-3 over that same stretch.

A big reason for the Shuckers' recent resurgence has been the performance of players who have been promoted to Biloxi in the last month or so.

Outfielder Clint Coulter has hit .361 in 22 games since being promoted from Class-A Brevard County (Fla.). He has a pair of homers, 11 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 72 at-bats.

Dustin Demuth has been a nice addition at first base, batting .290 with 13 runs scored in 28 games at Biloxi.

Right-handed starting pitcher Luis Ortiz has been outstanding in five starts, allowing just one earned run on 20 hits in 21 1/3 innings. He has a 2-1 record and a 0.42 ERA with 13 strikeouts and nine walks.

All-Star shutout

The Biloxi Shuckers failed to earn a spot on the Southern League Postseason All-Star Team on Tuesday.

The Shuckers placed two on the Postseason All-Star Team a year ago, shortstop Orlando Arcia and right-handed pitcher Jorge Lopez.

On assignment

The Shuckers have a big leaguer on the roster at the moment with Will Middlebrooks on a rehab assignment.

The 27-year-old recently appeared in two games for the Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, going 2-for-7 with an RBI and two strikeouts. Middlebrooks went down with a lower right leg strain during Milwaukee’s game against the Chicago Cubs on July 24 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day.

Signed as a free agent in the offseason by the Brewers, Middlebrooks started the season with Triple-A Colorado Springs and batted .282 with 22 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 47 RBI over 68 games, earning a selection to Milwaukee on July 4. Middlebrooks hit .111 with an RBI in 10 games for the Brewers.

Middlebrooks was a member of the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Middlebrooks' best season in the big leagues came in 2012 when he batted .288 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 267 at-bats.

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