BILOXI - The Biloxi Shuckers jumped out to an early lead on Pensacola Blue Wahoos Monday night and rode a strong pitching performance from Josh Hader and company to a 5-2 victory at MGM Park. Hader and reliever Tristan Archer carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Monday night. The Shuckers move to within a half game of the Wahoos in the Southern League South Division standings.
Biloxi took advantage a defensive miscue in the first inning, as Brett Phillips (0x4, R) reached on an error by first baseman Brandon Dixon, giving the Shuckers a one-out base runner. A wild pitch to Jacob Nottingham (1x3, R, BB) moved Phillips up before the catcher walked with two outs to put men on first and second, setting up Garrett Cooper's RBI single to left to give the hometown team a one-run lead. Cooper leads the club with eight RBIs on the season.
Hader struggled to put hitters away early on in the game, leading to a heavy workload through his four innings. The southpaw needed 83 pitches - 50 strikes - to make it through the short night, walking three and striking out five. The 22-year-old has yet to make it through five innings in his three starts to begin the year.
The Shuckers added insurance in the fourth, stringing together three-consecutive singles to start the two-run frame.
Nathan Orf (1x3, R, BB), Nottingham and Cooper reached against Amir Garrett before Victor Roache (0x3) popped out to short for the first out of the inning. Javier Betancourt (2x3, 2 RBI) followed with a single to left to bring in Orf and Cooper. The 20-year-old shortstop extended his on-base streak to eight games with a two-hit night.
Pensacola put up a two-spot in the seventh to chip into the Shuckers' lead. Tony Renda singled against Tristan Archer (1-0) to break up the combined no-hit bid start things out. Brandon Dixon followed with a fielder's choice and moved up to second one batter later after Sebastian Elizalde's single to center. Beau Amaral drove the runners home with a triple to center to cut the Shuckers' lead to one.
Nick Ramirez (1x1, HR, RBI, R) brought the lead back to two with a pinch-hit, two-run homerun to right in the bottom half of the inning, providing plenty of cushion for the Shuckers' bullpen.
Jaye Chapman (SV, 4) worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the season. The righty has not allowed a baserunner in five games - 15 batters faced.
Biloxi aims to take the lead in the five-game series on Tuesday night against Pensacola. RHP Javi Salas (1-1, 4.22) makes his third start of the year for the Shuckers, while the Blue Wahoos counter with the Cincinnati Reds' ninth-ranked prospect (Baseball America) Sal Rromano (0-0, 2.60) First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.