G-Braves squander late lead in road loss

NORFOLK, Va. — For the second straight game, the Gwinnett Braves took a 3-2 lead to the bottom of the eighth inning and ended up losing to the Norfolk Tides. Norfolk scored five times in the eighth for a 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park in Norfolk.

In that bottom of the eighth, the G-Braves (36-49) brought in Luis Ayala from the bullpen to hold a slim lead. He immediately got into trouble, walking Luis Exposito and giving up a bunt single to Xavier Avery. Jason Pridie followed with a fly ball to deep right that Joey Terdoslavich misplayed into a single to load the bases.

Ayala then walked Henry Urrutia to force in Exposito from third, tying the game at 3-3. The next batter, Russ Canzler, delivered the decisive blow, a double to left-center clearing the bases and putting the Tides up 6-3. Wirfin Obispo spelled Ayala and eventually allowed Canzler to score as Norfolk (45-39) increased the lead to 7-3.

The G-Braves got on the board first in the game, scoring in the top of the fourth. Terdoslavich drew a one-out walk off of Norfolk starter Josh Stinson and moved to third on a double to left by Ernesto Mejia. Brandon Boggs followed with a groundout to third that scored Terdoslavich for a 1-0 Gwinnett lead.

But in the bottom of the fifth, the Tides went back on top as Gwinnett starter Kameron Loe walked Zelous Wheeler to lead off the inning. L.J. Hoes followed with a single to left putting two on, and Yamaico Navarro plated Wheeler with a single to left to tie the game at 1-1. Hoes moved to third as Buck Britton hit into a fielders’ choice and then Exposito then hit into a fielders’ choice at third, scoring Hoes to put the Tides up 2-1.

The G-Braves edged ahead on clutch hitting in the top of the seventh. With two outs and Boggs on first via a walk, Alden Carrithers singled to left and Jose Yepez delivered a single to center, scoring Boggs to knot the game at 2-2. Luis Nunez followed with a single to left, scoring Carrithers to put Gwinnett in the lead 3-2; a lead that held until the disastrous bottom of the eighth.

Loe gave the G-Braves another fine start. He went 5.0 innings with two earned runs on four hits, one walk and one strikeout. Juan Cedeno went 2.0 innings with a walk and a strikeout. Ayala (L, 0-1) was credited with no innings pitched. He gave up three hits, five earned runs and walked two. Obispo went 1.0 inning with one hit.

Stinson worked 7.0 innings in his 14th start of the year for Norfolk. He allowed three earned runs on four hits, walked three and struck out three. Manny Delcarmen (W, 2-3) worked a scoreless top of the eighth with two hits and two strikeouts. Jairo Asencio pitched the ninth with one strikeout.

The G-Braves’ six hits on the day came off the bats of Phil Gosselin, Terdoslavich, Carrithers, Yepez, Nunez and Mejia. Mejia collected the only extra base hit with his fourth-inning double.

Hoes and Navarro each had two hits for Norfolk. Canzler was 1-for-4 with three RBIs.

The Gwinnett Braves and Norfolk Tides meet in Game 3 of the five-game series on Monday night at Harbor Park. Right-hander David Hale (2-3, 4.39) will start for Gwinnett, while Norfolk will start right-hander Freddy Garcia (4-0, 2.67).