LAWRENCEVILLE — On a chilly night for baseball, the Gwinnett Braves bats tried to heat things up.
The G-Braves pounded out 21 hits to finish off a two-game sweep of Norfolk with a 15-0 win to end the team’s first home stand of the season. It was the third time this season, the G-Braves scored double-digit runs and second time versus the Tides. The 21 hits bested the previous season high 19 they put up on the Tides in a 10-5 win at Harbor Park. It was the most hits in a game for the G-Braves since August 2012 at Durham. They only struck out twice.
“I was proud of the guys,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It was an ugly night and they didn’t use that as an excuse.”
It was the second-biggest margin of victory since April 2009, the team’s first season. Like in the other two big offensive games this year, every batter in the lineup had a hit, but the big knocks came from the bottom of the order.
Edward Salcedo was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, Christian Bethancourt went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored and Sean Kazmar finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs. It wasn’t until Kazmar’s final at-bat that he didn’t get a hit, bouncing into a fielder’s choice.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play for the most part,” Kazmar said. “Hopefully, now, I can keep it rolling.”
The big offensive night overshadowed a bright showing from starting pitcher Cody Martin. The right hander and No. 11 prospect in the Braves system allowed just two hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking one. The biggest threat against Martin came in his first inning when the first three batters reached base, but with one out he struck out Caleb Joseph and Brett Wallace flew out softly to center field. Martin then retired 10 of the next 11 he faced.
“It was a lot of slowing everything down and commanding the baseball,” said Martin, who spent his time between innings in the tunnel trying to stay warm.”
Martin’s start set the standard for the team’s first shutout of the season.
The G-Braves scoring started slowly with two runs in the third. Kazmar opened the inning with a bloop single advanced on a Jose Constanza sacrifice bunt and Cunningham reached on an infield single sending Kazmar to third. With the runners on the corners, Tommy La Stella flew out to deep center to score Kazmar and, after a walk to Ernesto Mejia, Joey Terdoslavich singled to score Gosselin.
Salcedo opened the fourth with his second homer of the season, a blast over the bullpen on a 1-1 offering from Kevin Gausman and the G-Braves kept hitting the righty starter hard. Christian Bethancourt doubled and scored on a Kazmar single when the Tides threw the ball in to second base with Bethancourt standing on third.
Kazmar’s single ended the night for Gausman after three-plus innings pitched. The former first-round pick out of LSU threw 67 pitches in his short outing, allowing four runs off seven hits. He walked three and struck out one.
From there, things only got worse for the Tides pitching and better for the Gwinnett bats.
Gwinnett piled five runs on in the fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate with the first seven reaching before Norfolk recorded an out. Salcedo started the scoring with a two-run double and the G-Braves had four hits and a sacrifice fly in the inning. Gwinnett added two more runs in the sixth with RBIs from Bethancourt and Kazmar and one more run in the seventh on an infield single by Mejia. Mejia’s single gave every G-Brave a hit and meant they all accounted for at least one run.
The Tides finished with back-up catcher Brian Ward on the mound and he gave up three runs in the eighth, surrendering the final four hits.