Ernesto Mejia hit a two-run homer and Eric Junge pitched six scoreless innings as the Gwinnett Braves continued their early season momentum with a 9-2 victory over the Norfolk Tides at Coolray Field. The victory was Gwinnett’s tenth win in its last eleven games as the G-Braves completed a four-game home sweep of the Tides.
The Braves roughed up Tsuyoshi Wada, who was on a rehab start for the Baltimore Orioles, for six runs, including Mejia’s second home run of the season, chasing Wada after just 2.2 innings pitched.
Junge allowed just three hits in six innings of shutout ball to earn his second victory of the season. After two rough starts to begin the year, Junge was able to find a rhythm and shut down the Tides.
Mejia added an RBI-double in the eighth to go along with his home run, increasing his team-leading RBI total to 12 on the young season.
“I’m just going out there, being aggressive, and doing what the coaches tell me to do at the plate,” Mejia said of his early success at the plate.
Jordan Parraz went 2-4 with a 3 RBIs, including a two-run double in the first inning. Stefan Gartrell and Jose Constanza also collected two hits each for Gwinnett. Constanza was brilliant in the field, making several spectacular catches in centerfield, effectively ending Norfolk’s attempts at a comeback.
Xavier Avery collected two hits for the Tides, who dropped to 5-10 on the season.
At 11-4, Gwinnett Manager Dave Brundage is quite pleased with his team’s early success and expects it to continue as the team hits the road.
“We’ve had great pitching this homestand and some timely hits,” Brundage said. “We’ve taken advantage of mistakes along with playing great defense.”
The early afternoon matinee contest came off the heels of a game that saw Atlanta ace Tim Hudson in a rehab start. Hudson allowed one earned run in five innings of work in Gwinnett’s 4-1 win over the Tides. Brundage praised Hudson’s effort after a rough first inning and expects him to be ready to return to the big leagues soon.
“Huddy was a completely different guy the last four innings,” Brundage said. “To me, he looked Major League-ready.”
Hudson pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning and seemed to find his rhythm through his next four innings of work.
“I know in the back of his head he’s got questions about his first inning of baseball,” Brundage continued on Hudson, “but he certainly put it together after that inning.” Hudson will make another rehab start for Gwinnett on Tuesday.
The G-Braves will next split a home-and-home series against the Charlotte Knights before heading on a seven-game road trip to take on two West division foes, the Toledo Mudhens and the Columbus Clippers.