TOLEDO, OH – The Gwinnett Braves (17-22) suffered a disastrous first inning, giving up seven runs to the Toledo Mud Hens (15-23), five of which were unearned, and dropped game two of their three-game series by a 10-5 score Tuesday at Fifth Third Field.
In that half inning, lead-off batter Xavier Avery was hit by a pitch by Gwinnett left-handed starter Greg Smith (L, 1-3). Josh Wilson followed with an infield single and Daniel Fields singled to right to quickly load the bases. Mike Hessman drilled a single to left, scoring Avery for a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Jordan Lennerton, hit a ball back to the mound, but Smith misplayed the ball, allowing Wilson to score to up the Mud Hens’ lead to 2-0.
Jeff McVaney then hit a ball to third, but third baseman Barrett Kleinknecht committed an error that allowed Fields to score Toledo’s third run with no one out. After one out, Jefry Marte singled to left, driving in Hessman for the fourth run and reloading the bases. Miguel Gonzalez followed with a double in the left field corner, clearing the bases and pushing the lead to 7-0.
Toledo added two in the bottom of the second off of Smith, as Lennerton led off with a double and Corey Jones walked. Marte singled to right, bringing in Lennerton for an 8-0 lead, and Gonzalez singled to left, scoring Jones for a 9-0 advantage.
Gwinnett made a run in the top of the seventh. With one out, Cedric Hunter singled off of Toledo right-handed starter Tim Melville (W, 2-4). Kleinknecht singled to center, and Mycal Jones stroked a base hit to left, scoring Hunter to cut the lead to 9-1. After Melville walked Joe Benson to load the bases, Toledo sent in right-hander Jose Valdez from the bullpen. He walked Jose Yepez, pushing across Kleinknecht to make it 9-2. Braden Schlehuber then singled to left, scoring Jones and Benson to cut the lead to five at 9-4.
However, in the bottom of the eighth, with righty John Cornely on the mound for Gwinnett, Hessman crushed a long solo home run to left field to bring the score to 10-4 Toledo.
The final run of the game came for Gwinnett in the top of the ninth, as Jones greeted righty reliever Josh Zeid with a single to left and moved to third on a single to right by Benson. Yepez scored Jones with a sacrifice fly to center for a 10-5 final score.
Smith went 6.0 innings in the loss for Gwinnett with 12 hits, nine runs (four earned), one walk and five strikeouts. Right-hander Aaron Kurcz pitched 1.0 inning with one walk and one strikeout. Cornely pitched 1.0 inning with one hit, one earned run and one strikeout.
Melville pitched 6.2 innings for the Mud Hens with four hits, four earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts. Valdez worked 1.1 innings with one hit and two walks. Zeid went 1.0 inning with two hits, one earned run and one strikeout.
Jones had another big day for the G-Braves, going 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and an RBI. He is 5-for-8 through the first two games of the series. Hunter went 1-for-3, and Schlehuber finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Mud Hens were led by Marte, who was 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, and by Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Wilson, Lennerton and Hessman were each 2-for-5. Hessman’s homer was his fifth of the season.
The G-Braves and Mud Hens meet in finale of the series with a 10:30 a.m. first pitch Wednesday morning. Right-hander Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.15) will be on the mound for Gwinnett. Toledo will start RHP Thad Weber (3-3, 6.19). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call from Toledo on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 10:00 a.m.