DURHAM, N.C. — On the strength of home runs by Mark Hamilton and Ernesto Mejia, the Gwinnett Braves beat the Durham Bulls 4-1 on Saturday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The offensive heroics of Hamilton and Mejia enabled Gwinnett starter Daniel Rodriguez (W, 1-0) to secure a win in a strong effort in his first start of 2014. Rodriguez worked five innings, giving up two hits, one earned run with one walk and nine strikeouts.
The G-Braves (2-1) offense got off to another great start, as they scored first for the third straight night. In the top of the fourth, both Tommy La Stella and Phil Gosselin connect with back-to-back singles and move up on a wild pitch by Durham starter Matt Andriese. After the wild pitch, Hamilton connected for his first homer of the season, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.
The only Durham (2-1) run came in the bottom of the fifth when Jerry Sands led off with a walk and Kevin Kiermaier followed with a single to center. Both moved up on a bunt by Ray Olmedo, and Sands scored on a groundout to second by Eddy Rodriguez, cutting the lead to 3-1.
The G-Braves got the run back in the top of the seventh when Mejia hit a one-out, deep solo homer to left off of Durham reliever C. J. Riefenhauser. It was Mejia’s fourth home run of the season, as he has homered in all three G-Brave contests.
The G-Braves got fine bullpen work from Wirfin Obispo who went 1 2/3 innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts. Ryan Buchter added 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball with one hit and two walks, while Juan Jamie notched his first career Triple-A save, hurling one inning, allowing one hit, one walk and two strikeouts.
Andriese took the loss, as he worked five innings with four hits, three earned runs, three walks and three strikeouts. Jeff Beliveau worked two innings with two strikeouts. Riefenhauser went two innings with one hit, one earned run, one walk and four strikeouts.
At the plate, the Braves were led by Mejia, La Stella, Gosselin and Todd Cunningham who each went 1-for-4. Hamilton was 1-for-2 with a homer and three RBIs.
For the Bulls, Sands and Robbie Price were 1-for-2. Olmedo was 1-for-2.
The Braves and Bulls conclude the four game series in Durham this afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. RHP Mitch Atkins (5-2, 3.47 in 2013 at AA-Mississippi) will pitch for the G-Braves. The Bulls will pitch LHP Mike Montgomery (7-8, 4.72 at Durham in 2013).