LAWRENCEVILLE — Harkening back to his heroics at the end of the spring training, Mauro Gomez ended another game with his bat.
The Gwinnett Braves first baseman, who was 1-for-3 entering his final at-bat, led off the ninth inning for the G-Braves and saw just one pitch. Instead of going to the left field, the left-hander knocked this one to opposite field right-center field.
“I was very happy,” he said. “That was the pitch I was looking for.”
G-Braves 4, Bison 3
• What happened: Mauro Gomez hit a first-pitch home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Gwinnett Braves a 3-1 series win over Buffalo and their first win to end a homestand this season. Jaye Chapman got his first win of the year pitching one scoreless inning of relief, striking out one, walking one and allowing one hit. Starter Yohan Flande pitched five innings, allowing one earned run and left in position for his third win. Buffalo’s Ryota Igarashi took the loss throwing one pitch.
• Stat of the day: Stefan Gartrell’s two-run home run in the fourth was his fourth homer in the last three games and his 12th on the season.
• Web gem: Jose Constanza made a tumbling, diving catch on a shallow pop up to left field to retire the pinch-hitter Jesus Feliciano in the seventh, his second diving catch of the game.
• Pivotal moment: A lead-off hit turned into an out in the top of the fifth when Gwinnett’s Constanza began a strong relay from left to put out the overly aggressive Raul Chavez, who took too big a turn at first base.
• On deck: Gwinnett returns to the road tonight for a four-game set with the Toledo Mud Hens. RHP Erik Cordier (0-1, 2.79 ERA) faces off against RHP L.J. Gagnier (0-0, 14.40).
The team assembled at home plate to greet Gomez, showering him with dirt and water and he jumped across.
The victory gives the G-Braves a 3-1 series win over Buffalo, their first since taking three of four from Pawtucket a month ago. They ended the homestand 4-4.
“It was better to finish up the way we did than the way we started,” manager Dave Brundage said.
In Monday’s back-and-forth game, Buffalo struck first scoring on a sacrifice fly in the second inning by Luis Hernandez after back-to-back hits to open the inning.
Stefan Gartrell kept his hot hitting going in the fourth inning with his fourth home run in the last three games. The two-run blast to left field gave Gwinnett a
2-1 lead. It was Gartrell’s 12th home run of the season to bring him into a tie for third-best in the International League. He ended the game 1-for-3 with a walk, upping his average to .290 on the season.
“It was a see-saw game,” Brundage said.
A two-base error by shortstop Julio Luge in the fifth inning allowed Buffalo to tie the game at 2-2, but in the bottom half, the G-Braves answered. With runners on the corners and one out, Daniel Nelson executed a squeeze bunt that turned into an RBI single to score Brandon Hicks. Nelson placed the bunt perfectly down the first-base line.
“It just worked out,” Nelson said of his second bunt of the season. “Sometimes you get lucky.”
“We talk about it, we work on it,” Brundage said of the bunt. “It was just well-executed.”
Nelson hit for starter Yohan Flande who pitched five innings, allowing two runs, one earned, off six hits. He struck out three. Flande left in position to win, but took another no-decision when Buffalo tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth with back-to-back hits off reliever Ben Swaggerty, including a double by Kirk Nieuwenhuis for his third hit of the game.
Gwinnett staved off trouble in the ninth with a putout on a single by Raul Chavez, who rounded first too hard and was thrown out at on a nice relay started by left fielder Jose Constanza.
“Everybody executed,” Brundage said. “Chavez is not a runner and he got caught in no-man’s land. It was a good, heads-up play.”
The scoreless inning from Jaye Chapman followed two by Juan Abreu as the G-Braves finally recovered from the back-to-back doubleheaders and major-league call-ups that depleted their bullpen.
“It was nice getting our bullpen back,” Brundage said. “It was nice to play some matchups.”
The scoreless innings gave way to Gomez’ heroics, giving Gwinnett its first homestand-ending win.
“I had to stand there for a second to realized the game was over,” Brundage said.