Faced with a four-game losing streak and the potential of their first series sweep of the season, the Biloxi Shuckers snapped out of their funk with a 7-0 victory over the Mississippi Braves on Sunday.
All-Star righty Aaron Wilkerson threw the first nine-inning complete game shutout in franchise history to bring the Shuckers within 3.5 games of first place. His effort was aided by a grand slam home run from Jacob Nottingham and a three-run homer by Johnny Davis.
Wilkerson (9-4) was a calming veteran presence on the mound, and he carried the Shuckers to victory with a two-hit shutout. The righty allowed just two batters over the minimum and struck out seven to earn his team-best ninth win of the season.
There have been four complete games thrown in team-history, but all came in games less than nine innings. Wilkerson wrote his name in the team record book for the longest start and first nine-inning complete game and shutout. Wilkerson picked up seven more strikeouts, placing him in a tie for third in the Southern League. His nine wins puts him tied for second in the league and 3.10 ERA him at seventh.
The Shuckers got to Kolby Allard (5-9) in the fourth inning, when Jacob Nottingham hit a two-out grand slam over the left field wall to take a 4-0 lead. It was the third grand slam of the season for the Shuckers, and the fifth home run for the resurgent Shuckers catcher.
In the fourth, Wilkerson singled to put two runners on for Johnny Davis, who had already collected a double and single in the game. The speedy outfielder launched a home run of his own, his third of the year, to extend the lead to 7-0. Davis finished 4-for-5 and just a triple shy of the cycle. Davis came one hit shy of the cycle for the second time this season.
Given a seven-run cushion, Wilkerson went into cruise control. His only hits allowed were harmless singles to Jared James in the fourth and ninth, and his lone walk was immediately erased on a double play in the sixth. The righty even added a second hit of his own to lead off the ninth before finishing off the Braves in the bottom half of the inning.
After an off day on Monday, the Shuckers travel to Pensacola to face the first-place Blue Wahoos at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. Luis Ortiz faces off against Keury Mella in the opener.