SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Trailing 5-4 with one out and no one on in the top of the ninth inning, the Gwinnett Braves erupted for five runs to rally past the Syracuse Chiefs 9-5 in Game 1 of the four-game series at NBT Bank Stadium on Monday night.
In the ninth, against Syracuse closer Erik Davis (1-2), Joey Terdoslavich beat out an infield single and moved to second on a single to left by Brandon Boggs. Joe Leonard then tied the game with a single to left, scoring Terdoslavich. Ernesto Mejia came to bat as a pinch-hitter and followed with a three-run blast to left center, giving the Braves an 8-5 lead. Matt Pagnozzi finished the rally with a solo homer of his own, extending the lead to 9-5 and finishing the come from behind victory.
Things did not get off to a good start, as the Chiefs took an early lead, scoring a run off of Gwinnett starter Omar Poveda in the bottom of the first. However, the G-Braves (22-30) rebounded with a four-run third inning against Syracuse starter Ryan Tatusko.
In that half inning, Paul Janish and Pagnozzi led off with walks and moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Poveda. Jose Constanza singled to center, scoring Janish to tie the game at 1-1. With Pagnozzi at third, Constanza stole second and both runners scored on a double to left-center by Todd Cunningham, giving Gwinnett a 3-1 lead. Cunningham then moved to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 4-1.
Syracuse (22-28) responded with a three-run homer from shortstop Zach Walters in the bottom of the fourth off of Poveda to tie the game at 4-4.
Then the hosts took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Corey Brown reached base on an infield error by Terdoslavich. The error proved costly, as Brown stole second and scored on a bloop single by Chris Marrero. The hit gave the Chiefs a 5-4 lead, which stood until the ninth inning comeback by the Braves.
Poveda went 6.0 innings, gave up seven hits and five runs (four earned) and struck out seven. Jordan Walden, in his first rehab outing in Class AAA, worked a scoreless seventh with one strikeout. Wirfin Obispo (1-2) got the win by pitching a scoreless eighth. Pat Egan finished the game with a perfect ninth inning.
Syracuse starter Tatusko went 7.0 innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs. He walked two and struck out five, but was not a part of the decision. Davis picked up the loss, working only 0.1 innings and giving up four of the five runs in the ninth inning.
At the plate, Boggs increased his hitting streak to five games with a 3-for-4 night. Constanza and Cunningham each had two hits, while Mejia’s pinch-hit homer produced his International League-leading 13th home run of the season.
Syracuse was led by Mike Costanzo, who was 2-for-4, and Walters, who drove in four of the team's five runs.
Game 2 of the series will be Tuesday with a 7 p.m. start as left-hander Daniel Rodriguez (2-3, 6.14) will pitch for Gwinnett. Syracuse right-hander Matt Torra (0-0, 6.75) gets the start for the Chiefs.