The Biloxi Shuckers earned a doubleheader sweep, 5-3 and 6-1 over the Jackson Generals Monday night at MGM Park to stay in the playoff hunt in the Southern League South.
The sweep puts the Shuckers right in the thick of the playoff race in the South. They finished Monday 4 1/2 games back of the Mississippi Braves for the division lead, but lead the Braves by half a game for the wild card spot, should the Pensacola Blue Wahoos win the second half. The Wahoos are currently half a game behind the M-Braves in the Southern League South.
Biloxi starting pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Brandon Woodruff combined to tossed 12 innings of two-run baseball with 13 strikeouts in the sweep. Left-handed batters Brett Phillips and Nick Ramirez paced the offense by going a combined 5-for-8 with two home runs, six RBI’s and four walks.
Game 1: Biloxi 5, Jackson 3
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Both teams tallied early runs in the first inning to start off the twin bill.
Jackson plated the first run of the game on a double down the left field line by Dario Pizzano. Tim Lopes walked with one out in the inning, stole second with Tyler O’Neill at the dish.
Biloxi responded with a run of its own to knot the game at 1-1.
Johnny Davis doubled to left to start the Shuckers’ offense. Phillips worked a full count before drawing a free pass, allowing Tyrone Taylor to put down a sacrifice bunt to give Biloxi two runners in scoring position with one out.
Nick Ramirez worked an eight-pitch battle that resulted in an RBI groundout to second, with Davis trotting in from third to tie the game at 1-1.
The Shuckers broke the game open in a four-run second to create separation from the team with the best overall record in the league. Tom Belza Rene Garcia and Davis all singled with two outs, including a run-scoring knock by Davis, to keep the inning alive for Phillips, who cranked his 15th home run of the season off the scoreboard in right for a three-run blast and a 5-1 lead.
The cushion would be enough for Taylor Jungmann, (3-3) who settled in after allowing a run in the opening inning. The right-hander scattered four hits across his five innings of work, walked three and struck out five on 89 pitches (50 strikes).
The Generals closed the gap against Tayler Scott in the seventh, as the visitors used a two-out, two-run homer off the bat of O’Neill to bring Jackson within two at 5-3.
Shuckers’ manager Mike Guerrero summoned his closer, Stephen Kohlscheen from the bullpen to get the final out of the game. The 6’6” right-hander induced a grounder to Belza at second for the final out of the opener.
Andrew Moore suffered the loss in the opener with five runs allowed on five hits, a walk and three strikeouts in two innings.
Game 2: Biloxi 6, Jackson 1
The Generals jumped out to another early lead with a run in the first.
Jackson (36-26, 82-50) loaded the bases with three walks, and Ryan Castell lifted a sacrifice fly to left to bring home Gonzalez to put Biloxi (30-33, 69-63) in another 1-0 deficit.
Brandon Woodruff (9-8) settled in after the opening frame, finishing the night with the first complete game of the season for Biloxi. The 23-year-old also recorded his first career complete game by going the distance in game two. The Wheeler, Miss. native did not walk a batter after the first, and struck out 10 on the night for his ninth win of the season at the Double-A level.
Once again, the Shuckers would respond, but this time the home team would put up a crooked number to take an early lead.
Davis Phillips and Clint Coulter started the inning with singles, including Coulter’s RBI single to left to bring home Davis and tie the game at 1-1.
Ramirez sent the next pitch 386 ft. away into right-center for his 14th homer of the season and give Biloxi a 4-1 advantage.
Biloxi added onto its lead with an RBI single by Belza in the fourth, scoring Dustin DeMuth from second for the 5-1 lead.
The home team padded on in the fifth with DeMuth driving in Ramirez from third on a bloop single to shallow left.
Tyler Herb took the loss for the Generals in the closer, allowing five runs on seven hits, a walk and three strikeouts in four innings.
Biloxi goes for the series victory in game four of the five-game set on Tuesday night at MGM Park. RHP Jorge Lopez (1-3, 4.19) toes the rubber for the Shuckers against the Generals’ RHP Paul Blackburn (8-5, 3.41). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.