BILOXI-- The Biloxi Shuckers set an all-time, team-high with four home runs, including two by Garrett Cooper on Sunday night en route to a 6-5, come-from-behind victory over the Birmingham Barons at MGM Park.
The Shuckers climbed back to 10 games over .500 for the first time since May 13 (22-12) and win their second-consecutive series, and tie for first place in the Southern League South Division with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos with seven games remaining in the first half.
Shuckers' starter Javi Salas (1.1 IP, 4 R - 3 ER - 3 H, 4 BB, 2 SO) struck out Adam Engel to start the game, but Salas ran into problems. A free pass to Joey DeMichele gave Birmingham a one-out base runner, and Jake Peter singled the runner over to third. Salas escaped the inning by inducing a double play off the bat of Eudy Pina.
The second inning followed the same script for Salas, as the Florida native struck out Courtney Hawikins to start the inning, walked Keon Barnum, and gave up a single to Seaon O'Connell to put runners on the corners with one out. The frame would not play out the same way, as Salas would issue back-to-back walks to Keenyn Walker and Eddy Alvarez to force in the first run of the game. Engel followed with a two-run single to give the visitors a three-run lead and end the night for the Shuckers' starting pitcher after just 1.1 innings.
Brooks Hall entered and got DeMichele to fly out to center and almost escaped the inning without further damage, but a throw to first on a grounder back to the mound by Peter was mishandled by Garrett Cooper, allowing Alvarez to score from third for the fourth run of the inning.
Hall ended his appearance with 3.1 innings out of the bullpen and shut out the Barons on two hits, a walk and four strikeouts.
Cooper (2x4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) redeemed himself in the fourth inning, as the first baseman launched his first home run of the season onto Caillavet to put the Shuckers on the board and bring the home team within three. The homer was his first in 55 games this season and first since August 22 while with the Brevard County Manatees.
Birmingham (26-37) would tally another run in the sixth against Brett Lee (1.0 IP, R, 3 H), as Walker singled to start the inning and reached third on a stolen base and a wild pitch with Alvarez at the plate. The Barons' shortstop would bring the runner home with a line drive to left to extend the Shuckers' deficit back to four.
Biloxi (36-26) scratched its way back with a two-out, solo home run by Nick Ramirez (1x3, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB) against left-handed reliever Andre Wheeler for the designated hitter's fifth long ball of the season.
The Shuckers' first two batters of the seventh went down against Wheeler, but the southpaw failed to retire another lefty, as Brett Phillips (1x4, HR, RBI, R) took the reliever deep with an opposite field shot to tie the game at five and snap an 0-for-9 stretch at the plate.
Stephen Peterson (6-0) relieved Tristan Archer (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 SO) with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth and allowed a single to DeMichele to put runners on the corners for Peter. The lefty reliever was able to get the Barons' leading hitter to fly out to left to get out of the inning with a tie score.
Cooper slammed his second blast of the game with one out in the eighth to give the Shuckers their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Daniel Tillman (SV, 5) earned his fifth save of the season, but not without some tension.
After striking out Pina to open the ninth, a walk by Hawkins and a single by Barnum put two men on base. O'Connell advanced the runners with a ground out to second, but Walker would go down looking to end the game.
With the win, fans get 50 percent off online orders tomorrow from Papa Johns! Use the promo code "SHUCKERS" at papajohns.com! Valid at participating Gulf Coast locations only.
Biloxi will attempt to tie a season-high with a fourth-consecutive win at 7:10 p.m. Monday night at MGM Park. RHP Jorge Ortega (0-5, 3.79) seeks his first win of the season for the Shuckers, while LHP David Holmberg (4-4, 3.89) takes the mouond for the Barons.