BILOXI – The Shuckers came up a run short on the scoreboard, but a stadium record crowd of 6,231 flowed into MGM Park Friday night and witnessed a wild contest.
A pair of two-run home runs to left field handed the Mississippi Braves a 4-3 victory over Biloxi.
The decisive homer came in the top of the ninth when the left-handed Rio Ruiz went opposite field off Biloxi left-hander Mike Strong to regain the lead for good for the M-Braves.
It was an unusual game that featured five errors by the M-Braves and none by the Shuckers.
The Shuckers (5-3) scored all three of their runs on three errors by the M-Braves (4-4) in the bottom of the eighth.
With men on second and third and two out in the eighth, Reed sent a hard hit ball toward Mississippi second baseman Eric Garcia, who failed to gather the ball after it bounced in front of him. With the ball rolling into center field, Josh Fellhauer and Orlando Arcia crossed home to tie the game at 2-2.
Soon after, M-Braves relief pitcher David Peterson's pickoff toss to first missed its mark and rolled well into foul territory toward the bullpen.
Reed, who runs well, rounded second and headed for third where he saw manager Carlos Subero motioning him to keep moving.
When Garcia again failed to get a handle on the ball, Reed sped home and barely beat the tag at the plate.
“I wasn't (sending him), but I decided to once I saw Garcia kick it,” Subero said. “That's why I created so much depth down the line. Once I saw it kicked, I'm like we've got to go for this and try to take the lead.”
Reed said that he couldn't ever recall scoring from first on a pickoff attempt.
“I wasn't expecting go home, but as I was rounding second he was still giving me the go,” Reed said. “I just kept going and got in there.”
It provided the high moment of the game for the Shuckers and lifted the large crowd to its feet.
Biloxi had a shot to tie or regain the lead in the bottom of the ninth after Mississippi took the 4-3 lead.
Tyrone Taylor took third and Josh Fellhauer moved to second on a double steal with two outs in the ninth.
Orf fouled back three pitches and worked a 2-2 count before lining out to a diving Garcia at second base.
“He's been so clutch this year,” Reed said of Orf. “He put together a great at-bat. You can't ask him to do anything more. The pitcher did his job.”
M-Braves starting pitcher Steve Janas, who made his Double-A debut Friday, pushed his scoreless innings streak to 28 2/3 innings. He gave up three hits, struck out three and walked none in 5 2/3 innings.
“He was just hitting his spots,” Reed said. “His pitches were working. His slider, changeup, fastball … He was locating. When you do that, you're tough to hit.”
Peterson (1-0) picked up the victory in one inning in relief, giving up no earned runs. Tyler Jones earned the save.
Strong (3-1) took the loss by giving up two earned runs on three hits in 1/3 of an inning.
Biloxi starting pitcher Hobbs Johnson allowed two earned runs on two hits in five innings. He walked six and struck out four.
Mississippi's first homer of the night was a two-run blast by third baseman Kevin Ahrens in the second inning.
Friday's crowd broke the previous stadium mark of 5,216 by more than 1,000 fans. All areas of the stadium were packed, including the grass berm behind the right field fence.
“It seems like (attendance) keeps getting better,” Subero said. “We had great support by the crowd and they get into it, which is important.”
The Shuckers, who took two-of-three in its series with Mississippi, will travel to take on the the Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday.
Left-hander Brent Suter (4-3, 1.88) is set to start Saturday for Biloxi and lefty Blake Snell (5-2, 1.69) will go for the Generals.