LAWRENCEVILLE – A vocal contingent of family and friends came down from Tennessee to root for Corban Joseph and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre second baseman didn’t disappoint them.
Instead, it was the Gwinnett Braves who left the rest of the crowd of 5,149 at Coolray Field feeling let down on Sunday.
Joseph hit a home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie and the Yankees defeated Gwinnett 4-3 to continue their season-long domination on the International League series.
Whether a one-run game or a rout, the G-Braves haven’t been able to beat the Yankees in seven meetings and they have just one more chance to break through.
Eric Junge (5-8) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against Mike O’Connor (2-3) in the 7:05 p.m. game on Monday.
Scranton is 57-45 and leads the IL North Division, while Gwinnett is last in the South at 46-57.
After being outscored 46-20 in their previous four losses to the Yankees, the G-Braves got a quality start from Johan Flande and battled back in the seventh and eighth inning against the Scranton bullpen to tie the game.
But Gwinnett left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth after scoring the tying run and Andrew Russell served up the decisive homer to Joseph a half-inning later.
Joseph, from outside Nashville in Franklin, Tenn., hit his sixth homer in 46 games with the Yankees after driving in Scranton’s third run with a double in the seventh inning.
The left-handed hitter is batting .270 with the Yankees after hitting .314 in 20 games with Trenton in the Class AA Eastern League. He is 4-for-10 with four RBIs in the series against the G-Braves.
Scranton took a quick lead as Chris Dickerson led off the game with a single, stole second base and scored on a single by Kevin Russo, the second hitter in the Yankees lineup.
But Flande didn’t let Scranton score again until Ramiro Pena tripled to open the fifth and Matt Antonelli followed with an RBI single.
Flande got one out in the seven before Dickerson doubled and Russo walked. Jaye Chapman replaced the left-hander and Joseph greeted him with his run-scoring double.
Chapman was able to work out of more trouble, though, and Gwinnett scored twice in the bottom on the seventh after being held to three hits over six scoreless innings by Scranton starter Adam Warren, ranked as the New York Yankees’ No. 11 prospect by MLB.com.
Ernesto Mejia and Ruben Gotay singled off reliever Manny Delcarmen and Jose Yepez scored them on a double with two outs.
It looked like the G-Braves would take the lead in the eighth, but all they ended up doing was tying things up.
After an RBI single by Luis Durango against Justin Thomas, two walks loaded the bases. But Ryota Igarashi struck out Josh Wilson and Gotay to end the inning.
Then Joseph put Scranton back on top with his homer to right field off Russell, who was making just his fourth appearance for Gwinnett after being promoted from Class AA Mississippi.
Jose Contanza walked with two outs in the ninth, but Igarashi (2-2) fanned Durango to end the game and get the victory.
Constanza had two hits and has reached base safely in 28 consecutive games. He leads the International League with a .324 average.
G-Braves outfielder Jordan Parraz didn’t play on Sunday, but X-rays of his left hand were negative. He was hit by a Ramon Ortiz pitch in the second inning on Saturday night.
It was another inside pitch that fractured a bone in the same hand on May 7 against Buffalo. Parraz, who is hitting .288, didn’t rejoin Gwinnett until July 14 and has been limited to 34 Class AAA games.