DURHAM, N.C. — The Gwinnett Braves enjoyed a big offensive night as every batter in the starting lineup connected for least one hit in a 12-7 win over the Durham Bulls on Friday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
In his first start in a G-Braves uniform, Ervin Santana (1-0) tossed 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs (five earned) in route to his first professional victory since Sept. 13, 2013 at Detroit. He made a total of 93 pitches, 50 for strikes as he struck out three and walked four.
Santana was spotted an early 6-0 lead. Ernesto Mejia got the G-Braves on the board in the bottom of the first, hitting a long two-run homerun to left-center off of Durham starter Enny Romero, scoring Joey Terdoslavich for a 2-0 lead.
The G-Braves (1-1) added to the lead in the top of the fourth. Tommy La Stella led off with a double, and walks to both Edward Salcedo and Phil Gosselin loaded the bases. Tyler Greene drove in La Stella with a sac fly to center for a 3-0 lead. Steve Lerud singled to reload the bases, and Jose Constanza followed with a single to left scoring Salcedo. Gosselin would score on a fielding error by the Durham leftfielder, while Lerud tallied the final run of the inning on an RBI groundout by Todd Cunningham, pushing the lead to 6-0.
The Bulls (1-1) scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth off of Santana as Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer to left.
The G-Braves answered in the top of the fifth with a long ball of their own, as Salcedo connected for his first career Triple-A homer. The two-run homer gave the Braves an 8-1 lead.
However, the Bulls would not give in as they scored five runs over the next two innings to cut the G-Braves lead to two runs at 8-6.
In the top of the seventh, Mejia came to rescue with a solo blast to left off of Durham reliever Steve Geltz to widen the Gwinnett lead to 9-6. With his second homer of the night and his third of the season, Mejia surpassed former G-Brave Stefan Gartrell as Gwinnett’s all-time homerun leader with 55 career round trippers.
After the Bulls got a run back in the bottom of the seventh to make it 9-7, the G-Braves added three in the top of the eighth to pull away. One run came on an RBI groundout by Constanza, one on an RBI single by Cunningham and the final one on an RBI double by Terdoslavich, extending the lead to 12-7.
The G-Braves bullpen would shut it down from there. Atahualpa Severino went 0.2 of an inning with one walk and one strikeout, while Cody Martin (S, 1) tallied the save, hurling the final three innings, giving up three hits and one earned run. Martin walked one and struck out four.
Romero (L, 0-1) went 4.0 innings with six hits, six runs, four earned, three walks and four strikeouts. Juan Carlos Oviedo went 1.0 inning with three hits, two earned runs, and one strikeout. Geltz worked 2.0 innings with one hit, one earned run and two strikeouts. Juan Sandoval pitched 2.0 innings with three hits, three unearned runs and one strikeout.
Offensively, Terdoslavich finished 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. La Stella was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Mejia was 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs.
For the Bulls, Kiermaier was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI. He homered for the second straight game. Cole Figueroa added two more hits, raising his lifetime batting average against Gwinnett to .365 (42-for-115).
The Braves and Bulls play game three of the four game series in Durham Saturday night. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-3, 5.77 in 2013 at Gwinnett) will pitch for the G-Braves. The Bulls will pitch RHP Matt Andriese (3-5, 4.45 in AA in 2013).