Gwinnett Braves catcher Jose Yepez takes a swing during a game this season. Yepez hit the go-ahead double in the G-Braves 5-4 win on Monday. (Gwinnett Braves/Chris Roughgarden)
LAWRENCEVILLE — On a day in which defense was shaky on both sides at times, it was an outstanding play that closed out the Gwinnett Braves' series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Joe Leonard's diving stab of former Atlanta Brave Pete Orr's smash with the tying run on second helped the G-Braves avoid being swept in the four-game set with a 5-4 win before 1,652 fan Monday afternoon at Coolray Field.
Leonard was also involved in the game-winning rally at the plate with an eighth-inning sacrifice bunt that set up Jose Yepez's eventual game-winning RBI double, capping a comeback win that saw Gwinnett spot Lehigh Valley an early lead.
"I think both clubs were having trouble (in the early innings)," G-Braves manager Randy Ready said. "When you're used to playing every night, 12:05 (p.m.) comes pretty quick. … This was our 50th one-run game (of the season). We lead all of baseball. It was nice to come on top in this one, especially with the way Lehigh's been playing against us."
Lehigh Valley jumped on Omar Poveda for four straight hits in the top of the first, including an RBI single from Josh Fields and a two-run single by Cody Overbeck, to take a 3-0 lead.
But the IronPigs' defense began to betray them in the bottom of the first, as the G-Braves took advantage of two errors and Ernesto Mejia's RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2.
After Orr's RBI triple in the top of the second to make the score 4-2, another Lehigh Valley miscue helped Gwinnett answer again in the bottom of the inning.
Shortstop Freddie Galvis' second error of the game opened the floodgates for Sean Kazmar's double and RBI groundouts by Poveda and Jose Constanza to pull the G-Braves even at 4-4.
"The game (started) a little sloppy on both ends," Ready said. "We took advantage of some miscues and got right back in it."
Poveda then settled down, retiring the 12 of the next 14 hitters he faced before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth.
"(Poveda was) leaving the ball a little up in the (strike) zone (in the first inning)," Yepez said of his battery mate. "After that, we talked about it, and he started making good pitches and he was successful the next four innings."
In fact, both pitching staffs were in control until the G-Braves came to bat in the bottom of the eighth.
Gosselin led off by steering a single into the hole on the right side of the infield off Phillippe Aumont (0-2) and went to second on Leonard's sacrifice bunt.
Yepez then went with a pitch on the outside corner and rocketed it over the head of the outfielders and and one-hopped the wall in right-center, allowing Gosselin to trot home and give the G-Braves their first lead of the day at 5-4.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit," Yepez said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play."
That lead looked in jeopardy with two outs in the ninth, when Orr lined a Wifrin Obispo offering down the third-base line that appeared to be ticketed for the left-field corner with Tyson Gillies, who had reached on a one-out bunt single, in scoring position.
But Leonard dove to his left and snagged the ball before it hit the ground, preserving Obispo's seventh save of the season in relief of Ryan Buchter (2-0), who threw two scoreless innings to pick up the win.
"(Orr) sliced it down the line, but it stayed up long enough for me to catch it in the air," said Leonard, who was 1-for-3 with a double and the sacrifice at the plate. "There was a guy on second, so you don't want to give (the hitter) third base that easy. Lefties like (Orr) sometimes have a (tendency) to got the other way with it and slice it down the line."
Todd Cunningham, Todd Pastornicky and Gosselin each had two hits for the G-Braves on the day.