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G-Braves’ La Stella drawing attention as G-Braves win

LAWRENCEVILLE — When your ballpark is just 37 miles from Turner Field, it is impossible for Gwinnett players to not know what is going on with the Atlanta Braves.

Veteran second baseman Dan Uggla is struggling again and fans’ unhappiness is getting louder and louder. A change is being demanded.

That means that Tommy La Stella’s name is being thrown around by more than a few of the many unhappy with Uggla.

“You can’t avoid anything anymore with Twitter and everything,” Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker said before Wednesday’s night 5-0 victory over Buffalo at Coolray Field. “I’m asked about it a lot.”

Cody Martin pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings for the G-Braves and was backed by homers from Todd Cunningham and Sean Kazmar. But the focus at the moment remains on La Stella.

Unknown by most Atlanta fans a year ago, the 25-year-old left-handed hitter is making a name for himself with the G-Braves this season by being everything that Uggla isn’t a the plate.

La Stella doesn’t have much power, but he also doesn’t strike out. He’s also ultra-consistent.

The New Jersey native has had a 21-game on-base streak this year and is the hardest hitter to strike out in the International League.

La Stella, batting .306 through 30 games, has fanned just nine times in 108 at-bats.

“He may be as good a two-strike hitter as I’ve seen,” Snitker said. “I think the pitcher is at the disadvantage when he gets two strikes.”

Although La Stella doesn’t come with a great defensive reputation, he’s made just one error.

“He’s worked hard and done a good job,” Snitker said.

La Stella served as the designated hitter on Wednesday night. He didn’t have a hit, but drew his 12th walk and drove in his 17th run with a sacrifice fly.

Cunningham drove in three runs with a double and his second homer of the season. The homer by Kazmar was his first of the year.

The G-Braves (17-15) scored twice in the first innings and that was all the support that Martin (3-2) needed against the Bisons (18-12). The right-hander allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five in the longest outing by a Gwinnett pitcher this season.

Martin has yet to allow a run against Buffalo. He allowed only two hits over seven innings in a start last season.

Notes: It was the fourth game with multiple homers for Gwinnett this season, but first since April 16 at Charlotte. … Buffalo LF Kevin Pillar had his hitting streak snapped at 18 games. … G-Braves LF Jose Constanza had a single, walk and stolen base, scoring twice. … The homestand concludes with a 10:35 a.m. education day game today. … LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-3, 2.73 ERA) will start for the G-Braves against LHP Sean Nolin (2-0, 1.55 ERA). … Gwinnett will play four games at Lehigh Valley and then four at Buffalo during the trip before returning home to open a series with Indianapolis on May 17.