Biloxi Shuckers

4 Shuckers pitchers combine for one-hit shutout, boost playoff hopes

Brett Phillips and Tyrone Taylor of the Biloxi Shuckers celebrate a two-run home run by Phillips in the first inning against Jackson Generals on Wednesday.
Brett Phillips and Tyrone Taylor of the Biloxi Shuckers celebrate a two-run home run by Phillips in the first inning against Jackson Generals on Wednesday.

Four Biloxi pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter as the Shuckers helped their postseason chances with a 2-0 victory Wednesday night over the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals.

It was the final 2016 regular-season game at MGM Park with a crowd of 3,704 on hand.

The Shuckers, who are   games behind the first-place Mississippi Braves in the Southern League South, will close out the regular season with a five-game road series against the M-Braves starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Pearl.

Second-place Pensacola (35-29, 76-58) is one game behind Mississippi.

If Pensacola adds the second-half title to its first-half title, the Shuckers can earn a spot in the playoffs if they finish with the second-best overall record in the South Division. Biloxi (31-34, 69-64) finished the night half a game behind Mississippi (36-28, 70-63) in the wildcard standings.

“Pensacola has got to play their game,” Biloxi manager Mike Guerrero said. “We’ve got to take of our business and we’re not looking in that area. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. If it happens, it happens.”

Biloxi starting pitcher Angel Ventura put in his best performance yet at the Double-A level as he was the first of four pitchers who combined to throw the one-hitter. He held the Generals to a single hit in six innings, striking out six and walking a pair.

Ventura improved his mark to 2-4, earning his first win since July 26 at Mobile.

“Awesome,” Guerrero said of Ventura. “I thought he did outstanding, lights out. So did the bullpen. Everybody pitched great.”

The lone hit of the game for Jackson came in the third inning on a single to center by Tyler Marlette.

It was the first one-hitter of the season for Biloxi and just the second in the team’s two-year history.

“Ventura was lights out,” Biloxi outfielder Brett Phillips said. “He worked ahead in the count. He threw great for us. I don’t care if it’s in a video game or not, that’s still impressive. He did it in real life. He’s continued to throw well for us and that’s all we can ask of him.”

Preston Gainey, the first man out of the bullpen, and Jacob Barnes both threw scoreless innings and Stephen Kohlscheen pushed his saves total to a club record 23 with a perfect ninth.

Phillips, who is starting to pick it up at the plate late, provided the big blast in the first inning Tuesday night. He took the team lead with his 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot over the right fence with none out in bottom one.

Phillips pushed his hit streak to four games and is 5-for-11 at the plate during that stretch.

“This is kind of what I strive for, to finish strong,” he said. “The second half, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. It’s a matter of grinding the rest of this time out like I have this last month and finish strong in the month of September.”

Tyrone Taylor led the Shuckers with a 2-for-3 night at the plate, leading a five-hit effort.

The Shuckers’ best pitcher of late, right-hander Luis Ortiz, will take the mound to start the series at Mississippi on Thursday. He is 2-1 with a 0.42 ERA. The Braves will counter with right-hander Patrick Weigel, who is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA.

The Shuckers head to Pearl hoping Wednesday night’s game wasn’t their last of the season at MGM Park.

“We just need to play the way we’re capable of,” Guerrero said. “If Pensacola wins, we’ll see what happens.”