The Biloxi Shuckers and Birmingham Barons wrapped up their five-game series with a seesaw battle that ultimately saw the Shuckers come away with a 6-4 victory at MGM Park on Tuesday night. Biloxi took four of five in the series and finishes the first half with a home record of 23-11.
The win coupled with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos' loss to the Montgomery Biscuits, Biloxi and Pensacola head into their final series of the half in a tie for first place in the Southern League South. The Shuckers have five games remaining, while the Blue Wahoos have six.
Biloxi (37-27) tallied an early run in the second to take a 1-0 lead. Gabriel Noriega (2x4, 2 R, 2B) floated a single into shallow center with one out and came around to score all the way from first on Rene Garcia's (2x3, 2 RBI, R, 2 2B) double to the wall in center.
Birmingham (27-38) would grab its first lead of the game two innings later, thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of Trey Michalczewski against Shuckers' starter Wei-Chung Wang. Eudy Pina started the frame with a single, giving way to Michalczewski's fifth homer of the season.
Wang lasted five innings in the finale, allowing two runs on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts on 96 pitches (61 strikes).
The Shuckers struck back with a two-spot of their own in the fifth to regain the advantage. Garcia started the frame with a walk and moved to second on Johnny Davis' (2x5, R) infield single. Back-to-back wild pitches by Carson Fulmer to Nathan Orf (0x4, R, BB) allowed Garcia to score the tying run. Garret Cooper (2x4, RBI, R) punched a single through the left side two outs later, scoring Davis for the go-ahead run.
The lead would be short-lived, as the Barons struck fast in the sixth against reliever Tristan Archer. Keon Barnum greeted the right-hander with an infield to third on a shifted infield. Jeremy Dowdy followed with a shot to the auxiliary scoreboard in left-center for his fourth homer of the season to put Biloxi in a one-run deficit.
Tyrone Taylor (1x4, 2 RBI) would give the Shuckers their third lead of the game with a two-run, bloop single to center in the seventh. Davis started the inning with a bunt single against reliever Matt Lollis, but would be caught stealing with Orf at the plate for the first out of the inning. Orf drew a free pass to replace Davis in front of Brett Phillips' (0x3, BB) strikeout for out number two.
Cooper reached safely on a ground ball that was bobbled by shortstop Eddy Alvarez, moving Orf up to second. Jacob Nottingham (0x3, BB) worked a walk to load the bases for Taylor.
Daniel Tillman (SV, 5) came on to work the ninth in an effort to convert his fifth save of the season. After allowing consecutive singles to start the innings, a sacrifice bunt by Joey DeMichele moved both runners into scoring position. A called third strike on Jake Peter brought the Shuckers an out away from victory, and Pina flew out to Phillips to secure the win for Biloxi and grant Tillman his fifth save.
Steve Peterson (7-0) earned his seventh win of the season by shutting out the Barons over 1.1 innings of relief, while allowing two hits and striking out one.
Biloxi heads east to take on the Jacksonville Suns for five games to finish up the first half of the season at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.81) toes the rubber for the opening matchup for the Shuckers, while RHP Chris Mazza (2-2, 3.19) counters for the Suns. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m., with coverage starting at 5:45 p.m. on the Biloxi Shuckers' Radio Network's flagship station WGCM 1240 AM, 100.9 FM, Pascagoula's WPMO 1580 AM and the TuneIn Radio app.