Behind a five-hit, four-run night from Luis Aviles Jr., the Biloxi Shuckers took Game 1 of the Southern League Championship Series 9-7 over the Jackson Generals on Tuesday night at MGM Park.
It’s the third time in franchise history the Shuckers have won Game 1 of the Southern League Championship Series, but they’ll need to win two more games in the best-of-five series to earn their first Southern League title.
Game 2 was set for Wednesday night at MGM Park before the series moves to Jackson, Tennessee, for Game 3 at 6:05 p.m. on Friday. If necessary, Game 4 will be at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday at Jackson and Game 5 would be at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday.
Aviles got his night started in the first when he roped a single to center field. Cooper Hummel followed with a bunt single up the third base line, and a throwing error on the play allowed Aviles to move around to third. C.J. Hinojosa plated Aviles with a sacrifice fly to left, putting the Shuckers on the board first.
Jackson responded with three straight singles to tie the game in the top of the second, but RHP Alec Bettinger navigated the danger, stranding the bases loaded. The Shuckers retook the lead in the home half of the third with a two-out rally. Max McDowell walked to lead off the inning, and Aviles bunted his way on base with one out. Following a strikeout of Hummel, Hinojosa singled to right, loading the bases for Weston Wilson. Biloxi’s first baseman drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run, and Jake Gatewood followed with a two-RBI single to center, giving Biloxi a 4-1 lead. Bruce Caldwell singled in the ensuing at bat, capping a four-run frame to put Biloxi up 5-1.
Yet again, the Generals responded, scoring four of their own in the top of the fourth inning on two hits, a walk and three errors. LHP Clayton Andrews entered in relief of Bettinger and recorded the last two outs in the inning, part of two innings pitched on the night for the southpaw.
In the bottom of the fourth, Aviles sparked another two-out rally, lacing a single to right after a pair of strikeouts by right-hander Jayson McKinley. Hummel then singled to right, scoring Aviles from second on a close play at the plate to put the Shuckers back in front 6-5. Hinojosa doubled down the left-field line to drive in Hummel, adding an insurance run. Biloxi notched another run in the fifth on an RBI single by Joantgel Segovia, extending their lead to 8-5.
Aviles’ lone extra-base hit of the night came in top of the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo home run to left, his first home run since May 23 at Mobile. With the big blast from Aviles, the Shuckers yet again took a four-run lead at 9-5.
Right-hander Tyler Spurlin pitched two innings out of the bullpen, allowing one run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a Seth Beer double. Right-hander Rodrigo Benoit recorded the first two outs of the eighth, but after a walk and a wild pitch allowed a run to score, Nate Griep entered to get the last four outs for the save. The righty struck out Drew Ellis to end the eighth, and retired the side in order in the ninth to lock up the opening game of the series.