NORFOLK, Va. – Ernesto Mejia hit a solo home run in the top of the 10th inning off of former teammate Adam Russell, propelling the Gwinnett Braves to a 3-2 win over the Norfolk Tides on Thursday at Harbor Park. Mejia’s decisive blast was his 28th of the season, tying him for the International League home run lead.
The finale of the five-game series was another low-scoring affair between the two clubs, and the 49th one run game played by Gwinnett (51-69) this season.
The Tides (62-58) jumped on the board first with a run off of G-Braves’ starter Kameron Loe in the bottom of the second inning. Danny Valencia led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout to first by Eric Thames and scored as Alex Liddi shot a double down the left field line for a 1-0 lead.
But the G-Braves came right back in the top of the fourth. Facing Norfolk starter and former first round draft pick Kevin Gausman, Mejia reached on a two-out single to left and Brandon Boggs followed with a single to left-center. Stefan Gartrell reached on an infield single to load the bases, and Joe Leonard singled to right scoring Mejia and Boggs for a 2-1 Gwinnett lead.
The Tides knotted the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh against Loe. Jason Pridie led off the inning with a single and took second on a throwing error by shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. Valencia followed with single to left scoring Pridie to make it 2-2.
The bullpens for both teams then went to work until Mejia’s 10th inning heroics gave the G-Braves their second straight win.
Loe turned in a quality start of 7.0 innings with four hits and one earned run. He walked two and struck out two. Mark Lamm (W, 2-1) picked up the win with 2.0 scoreless innings, one hit and one strikeout. Wirfin Obispo (S, 6) picked up his second save in as many nights and sixth overall with a perfect bottom of the 10th including two strikeouts.
Gausman worked 5.0 innings, gave up two earned runs on four hits, walked two and struck out two. Former Braves’ minor leaguer Chris Jones went 2.0 inning with two hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Manny Delcarmen worked 1.0 inning with one hit and two strikeouts. Jairo Asencio went 1.0 inning with two hits and one strikeout. Russell (L, 3-3) pitched 1.0 inning with one hit, one earned run, one walk and one strikeout.
At the plate for Gwinnett, Mejia went 3-for-4 with the home run, two runs scored and one RBI. His 28th homer not only tied him with Buffalo’s Mauro Gomez, another former G-Brave, for the IL lead, it also gave him sole possession of the IL lead in RBIs with 77 on the year.
The Tides were led by Valencia, who was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
The G-Braves return home to Coolray Field to begin an eight-game homestand Friday night, which begins with a four-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The G-Braves will start left-hander Yohan Flande (7-6, 4.42), while the IronPigs will counter with right-hander David Buchanan (1-0, 2.57). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.