BIRMINGHAM, AL. – Nine of the games’ ten runs came across in the seventh and eighth innings on Thursday as Birmingham plated four of those in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the Shuckers 6-4 in front of 7,924 at Regions Field. The loss forces the rubber match of the set on Friday night, which is the final game of the opening 54-game road trip. In Thursday’s game, Biloxi committed two errors for just the sixth time this season and fell to 27-4 when scoring four-or-more runs. The Shuckers’ division lead shrank to 2.5 games and the magic number for a first half clinch remains at 14.
Biloxi (32-21) entered the seventh down 1-0 and promptly greeted reliever Blake Smith with a leadoff single by Nathan Orf, who advanced to second on an error by right fielder Brian Fletcher. Taylor Green followed with an RBI single to plate Orf and tie the game at 1-1. Green attempted to take second on the play at the plate, but was thrown out by Barons’ catcher Rob Brantly. Adam Weisenburger roped a double to left, Brandon Macias walked and Kyle Wren reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases for Tyrone Taylor. The centerfielder drove a double to right to bring in Weisenburger and Macias to give the Shuckers a 3-1 advantage.
Birmingham (26-28) answered back with a run in the bottom-half of the seventh off of reliever Mike Strong with a RBI single off the bat of Brantly, scoring Jeremy Farrell.
The Shuckers pushed their lead back to two in the eighth with an RBI double from Weisenburger that brought in Nick Ramirez.
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Biloxi reliever Austin Ross retired the first batter in the eighth, but six straight Barons reached base, which resulted in four runs to boost Birmingham back in the lead. The Shuckers’ defense committed two errors in the frame. The Biloxi bullpen struggled again Thursday, giving up five runs and now 15 runs over the four games in the series.
Trevor Seidenberger replaced Ross and needed just two pitches to get Marcus Lemon to fly out to left.
Hiram Burgos allowed just one hit through the first four innings, but still faced the minimum before the Barons took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Farrell produced the third consecutive hit to start the frame, scoring Fletcher who had led off with a double. Fletcher collected four three hits in the game and an RBI.
Burgos worked out of trouble in that fifth inning, as Birmingham loaded the bases with one out, but a double play ended the Barons’ threat and only one runs came across.
Biloxi will send out LHP Brent Suter (3-1, 2.43) in the rubber match on Friday. The Harvard lefty will make his second start of the year against Birmingham, picking up the win on May 22 with six innings of shut-out ball. The Barons will counter with RHP Tyler Danis (4-2, 4.36) who allowed seven runs – four earned – over four innings against the Shuckers on May 25. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., with coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. on 1240-AM WGCM and the Biloxi Shuckers Radio Network. Fans can also listen to the game using the TuneIn Radio app or by going to www.biloxishuckers.com.
The Shuckers will open MGM Park with the inaugural game on Saturday against the Mobile BayBears. MGM Park gates will open at 5 p.m. on Opening Night so that fans can come early to roam the facility and soak up the excitement.