G-Braves make it two straight with 12-inning win

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett got everything and more it could ask for from Yohan Flande.

The right-handed starter turned in his longest performance of the season, going eight innings allowing two runs, one earned, off four hits. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter. In one stretch, he retired 12 straight without a ball leaving the infield.

But a late run off an error costs Flande his modest one-run lead giving Flande a no-decision and eventually sending the game into extra innings.

And it wasn't until the 12th that Tyler Pastornicky came up with the game-winning fielder's choice RBI to score Luis Durango and give the G-Braves a 3-2 win.

“Any way you can get them,” Pastornicky said of the win. “It was awesome, especially after the last couple of weeks.

“I think we are going to start playing better.”

The win was the second straight for the G-Braves who hadn't won back-to-back games since a June 15 doubleheader sweep. The last time the G-Braves won consecutive nine-inning games was May 28 and 29. They are now 2-0 in July with both wins coming in the final at-bat.

“It was big-time,” Pastornicky said of winning Sunday's game to end the 15-game losing streak. “It gave us a boost of confidence. When you pull out games it brings us closer together and gives us more confidence.”

Both teams had chances after the ninth. Gwinnett left runners on the corners in the 10th and stranded two runners in the 11th. But both times, Parkview graduate Anthony Carter escaped both, turing in two one-hit relief innings with three walks and one strikeout.

For the Knights, the missed chances also involved stranding two runners in both the 11th and 12th against the pair of G-Braves relievers Dusty Hughes and D.J. Carrasco. Both Hughes and Carrasco allowed a hit and walked a batter.

“The bullpen did a great job, we needed it too,” manager Dave Brundage said. “Tonight was encouraging.”

Gwinnett took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Scott Olsen when Christian Marrero took a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall. It was Marrero's fourth home run of the season.

The run was the only one allowed by Scott Olsen, making his second start of the season after being signed to a minor league deal by the White Sox. The former major league pitcher with the Nationals and Marlins missed all of 2011 with shoulder trouble.

In his first start was a one-inning performance June 29 with the Rookie level Bristol White Sox. Olsen allowed one run off one hit in the outing. He ended his night following the run-scoring inning for the G-Braves, walking the next batter, Ruben Gotay, and then retiring the final three. In total, he pitched two innings, allowed one run off two hits with one walk and no strikeouts.

Flande's shutout lasted until the fourth when Dan Johnson tied the game with a lead-off blast. It was 21st home run for the All-Star third basemen. The home run was his only mistake of the night.

“He did a great job pitching inside tonight,” Brundage said of Flande. “I thought he pitched aggressively and he deserved to pitch deep into the ballgame.

“He pitched his best outing of the year.”

Then came home run No. 3.

Another All-Star selection, Ernesto Mejia, reclaimed the G-Braves lead with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth, this one off Matt Zaleski. It was Mejia's 16th homer and Gwinnett led 2-1.

Gwinnett almost added another run when Josh Wilson singled with two outs and Jose Yepez on second after a double. But the Knights' relay from left easily beat Yepez home, squelching the aggressive G-Braves offense.

Flande's 12 straight outs followed the home run to Johnson. He was so efficient he sat at just 90 pitches after seven innings. But a Ruben Gotay error on a grounder started the eighth and derailed Flande's dominance. Jim Gallagher advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double by No. 9 hitter Justin Greene tying the game at 2-2. But Flande recovered retiring the next two batters to keep the game tied.

“We played a solid defensive ballgame and got good pitching,” Brundage said. “That's what it takes to win 3-2 ballgames.”