"It was just one of those nights when we didn't play well overall. We didn't run the bases, didn't really play defense and offensively we just didn't execute," said Gary Jones the BayBears' manager after the game.
The BayBears started the game strong when last night's hitting star third baseman Brett Bonvechio singled to right field to drive in Adam Bourassa. Unfortunately what plagued Mobile on Thursday night, the inability to drive runners in from third base with less than two outs, came back to haunt them as the BayBears left George Kottaras stranded at third base.
"We get a chance to score runs from third base with les than two outs we have to get it done. We're not selective enough at the plate as hitters to make the pitchers do their job. As an offense we just have to improve upon it, its not just one guy," said Jones.
In the top of the second inning starting pitcher Jose Oyervidez walked two batters and then hit the next batter to load the bases, but struck out his counterpart starting pitcher Matt Wright in his first at-bat of the season escaping without allowing a run.
In the next inning Braves' lead-off hitter Gregor Blanco a "seeing-eye single", which hit Oyervidez and caused the BayBears' second baseman and shortstop to collide as it squirted into center field. Mobile guessed correctly that Blanco would be stealing and called a pitchout, but Kottaras' throw was high and wide to the second base side. The next Braves batter then hit an infield single, with Oyervidez third wild pitch of the game advancing both runners to second and third with one out.
Oyervidez then had his most impressive performance of the night, striking out successive Braves hitters catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, one of the top prospects in the Braves system, and first baseman Michael Rossamond, who had been a nemesis for the BayBears all year long.
Mississippi had to wonder if after nine innings of being shut out the night before if they were cursed, despite the BayBears providing them with so many opportunities.
Braves' right fielder Matt Esquiel answered that question on the first pitch of the fourth inning hitting a shot that landed on BayBear mountain far over the left field fence to tie the game.
In the sixth inning an error on a routine ground ball by Bonvechio put a Braves hitter on first base which was followed by Braves' left fielder Carl Loadenthal's first hit of the series, a double to right field. The BayBears had a chance to throw him out at second base, but Cruz needlessly cut off right fielder Steve Baker's throw to second base allowing Loadenthal to slide into second base.
Cruz, who had a tough night at the plate as well going 0-4, then mishandled a potential inning ending double play, which allowed the Braves to take the lead 2-1.
The Baybears level of frustration increased in the sixth inning when center fielder Kennard Jones stepped out of the batter's box and thought time was called. Unfortunately it wasn't, even though Jones appeared to get out of the box very early, the umpire didn‘t grant his request and called him out on strikes. Jones argued the call and was tossed out of the game.
Baker led off the seventh inning with a single, one of only three hits after the first inning by Mobile. Cruz then sacrificed Baker over to second, but Braves catcher Saltalamacchia failed in his attempt to throw Baker out.
With runners on first and second, first baseman Fernando Valenzuela Jr. sacrificed the runners over, giving the BayBears again runners at second and third with one out. Shortstop Juan Ciriaco hit a soft liner to the Braves shortstop who fired the ball to home plate where Baker was thrown out. Pinch-hitter Brett Dowdy walked, but the rally ended when Bourassa grounded into a fielder's choice.
Braves pitcher Ryan Basner tried to give the BayBears a break in the top of the eighth, walking both Kottaras and Bonvechio, giving Mobile runners in scoring position once again. However both Baker and Cruz struck out swinging at pitches in the dirt to end the inning.
The Braves put the game out of reach in the ninth inning adding two more runs to give the Braves a 4-1 victory.
"That is why we have another day tomorrow," said Jones after the game, "we just have to keep plugging away."