The Biloxi Shuckers won their fourth straight game Thursday night, defeating the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 5-3 to remain atop the Southern League’s South Division. Javier Betancourt homered and went 3-for-4 to lead a 12-hit outburst in Jacksonville.
The win improves the Shuckers to 18-16 on the season, and gives them a half-game lead in the division pending the results of Pensacola and Mississippi’s games this evening. The Shuckers, Blue Wahoos and Braves entered play Thursday in a three-way tie for first place.
Luis Ortiz started for the Shuckers, working 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one run on three hits. The righty struck out just one, but did not allow any hits until the fourth inning.
Ortiz traded zeroes with Shrimp starter Chris Mazza through four innings until the Shuckers got on the board in the top of the fifth. Betancourt launched his second home run of the season around the left-field foul pole to put the Shuckers up 1-0.
The Shuckers would add another run in the sixth, when Mauricio Dubon singled, advanced to second on a groundout, alertly stole third on a throw back to the pitcher, and came home on a passed ball. The stolen base, Dubon’s 17th, extended his lead on the Southern League and Double-A leaderboards.
Ortiz finally allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth, but Nick Ramirez entered to finish the inning and keep the lead intact at 2-1. In the bottom of the eighth inning, reliever Bubba Derby benefited from a heads-up play by his catcher Jacob Nottingham to turn a popped-up bunt into a double play and thwart a threat.
In the top of the ninth, the Shuckers broke the game open with a Clint Coulter home run, an Art Charles double, and RBI singles from Dubon and Angel Ortega to stretch the lead to 5-1. After Josh Uhen struggled in the ninth, Matt Ramsey finished the game off with the tying run on second to notch his league-leading 10th save.
Dubon, Ortega and DeMuth collected two hits each and DeMuth extended his on-base streak to 19 games. The Shuckers have collected double-digit hits in each game of the series and 47 altogether.
Biloxi has won 11 of its last 14 games since April 27.