LAWRENCEVILLE — For two pitchers who entered Wednesday with plus-5 ERAs, the two turned in gems for Gwinnett and Columbus.
For Clippers lefty Scott Barnes, Wednesday was just his second Class AAA start, after allowing four runs off four hits in five innings against Louisville.
This was Jacob Thompson’s third start for the G-Braves and he entered 1-0, but his ERA was 7.11.
Neither pitched like his record, ERA or youth.
Barnes, who played all of last season with Class AA Akron, reverted to his strikeout ways, punching out seven G-Braves over 62⁄3 two-hit innings.
Thompson countered with an efficient seven innings, allowing two runs off seven hits, three walks and five strikeouts. The seven innings were by far the most for the 24-year-old this season and the runs tied for the fewest. His 91 total pitches were less than he needed to get through 51⁄3 innings in his last start at Norfolk.
“I knew coming in I had to make pitches and couldn’t walk a lot of guys,” Thompson said, who walked just three. “Luckily I made pitches and got ground balls.”
Thompson’s effort only earned him a loss as the G-Braves fell 4-0, dropping their second straight to the Cleveland Indians affiliate.
Thompson, a fifth round draft pick from Virginia spent all of 2010 with Class AA Mississippi, going 8-10 with a 4.72 ERA in 27 appearances, 23 of them starts. Though he entered with a 1-0 record, Wednesday was the first game the G-Braves lost with Thompson starting this season. He mixed all four of his pitches well, not turning to a specific one for an out.
“He did a nice job,” manager Dave Brundage said of Thompson. “He got his first win in his last start and today it carried over and he threw the ball really well.”
Even with just four hits, Gwinnett had multiple chances to score, but left nine runners on base across the second, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The G-Braves put the first two on in the sixth, but Mauro Gomez was picked off second and a double play ended any hint of a threat. Gwinnett left two on in the second, fourth and ninth.
Gomez was picked off as Joe Mather tried to bunt the two runners into scoring position.
“We didn’t have a lot of opportunities and when we did we didn’t execute,” Brundage said. “In a one-run ball game, we’ll take our chances.”
The G-Braves struck out 11 times and only three players reached base more than once.
“It was quality pitching,” Brundage said. “It was two quality pitchers we faced tonight.”
As quiet as the bats were, the defense played well. In an error-free game, the combination of Ed Lucas at second, Diory Hernandez at shortstop and first baseman Gomez turned three double plays and catcher Wilkin Castillo threw runners out at second and third base.
“We did a nice job on defense,” Brundage said and Thompson agreed.
“I am a guy who relies on my defense a lot to help me out,” he said “I was lucky I got ground balls and they were hit right to them.”