The Bats break through Gwinnett's late season groove with a 6-4 extra inning (11 innings) win
Preview: Louisville Bats (58-90, 32.5 GB in the AAA International League West) vs Gwinnett Stripers (69-77, 20.5 GB in the AAA International League West)
It's been a minute since we last covered the Gwinnett Stripers (including throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, so click HERE for our recap), the AAA affiliate of the 2021 World Champion Atlanta Braves. With the minor league season concluding tomorrow (September 28, 2022), some would figure they are just playing out the string.
However, that is not the case.
While out of the running for postseason play, a number of players are using the closeout part of the season to prepare for winter ball, as well as identifying areas of focus as spring training for 2023 is not as far off as one may think.
Coming into tonight's game with a modest 2 game winning streak, Gwinnett starting pitcher Alan Rangel is making his AAA debut. With support from tonight's starters including (but not limited to) Alex Dickerson (.242 batting average with 12 home runs and 43 runs batted in), Pat Valaika (.245 BA with 10 HR and 54 RBI's), Taylor Motter (.264 BA with 12 HR and 34 RBI's with Gwinnett), and recent callup Justyn-Henry Malloy (.222 BA with 1 HR and 4 RBI's), he looks to win his debut and help the team close out the regular season on a positive note.
The visiting Louisville Bats (the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds), counter as Cristian Santana (.274 BA with 11 HR and 67 RBI's), Juniel Querecuto (.253 BA with 11 HR and 33 RBI's), and Aramis Garcia (.200 BA with 1 HR and 2 RBI's while on his current rehab assignment from the Cincinnati Reds) look to get the offense going and snap their current 2-8 slide over their past 10 games. Justin Dunn (0-3 with a 6.92 ERA while on his rebab assignment from the Cincinnati Reds) looks to improve his performance and in turn, position Louisville to a win.
For our pregame interview, the fast-rising Justyn-Henry Malloy (he starts 2022 with the A Rome Braves and now is with the AAA Stripers) takes time to share his insight on the season, lessons learned, and how he looks forward to the 2023 season:
Recap: the Louisville Bats (59-90) earn a 6-4 11-inning win over the Gwinnett Stripers (69-78)
Gwinnett starter Alan Rangel has a 1-2-3 first inning. However, Louisville would work him into deeper pitch counts in the 2nd and 3rd innings and eventually show him the door (3 IP, allowing 2 runs [both earned] on 4 hits with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks]) thanks to RBI's by Aramis Garcia (on a double) in the top of the 2nd and Isaiah Gilliam (single) in the top of the 3rd to give the Bats an early 2-0 lead.
The Stripers would strike back in the bottom of the 4th inning. Justyn-Henry Malloy's RBI double would cut the deficit to 2-1 off reliever Robert Dugger, and Ryan Casteel's 2 RBI single would give Gwinnett a 3-2 lead.
Solid pitching keeps both teams' offenses silent until the top of the 6th inning. Thanks to Michael Papierski's RBI single off Gwinnet reliever Connor Johnstone (3 IP, allowing 1 run [earned] on 3 hits with a strikeout and a walk), Louisville ties the game at 3.
Gwinnett would make things interesting in the bottom of the 8th inning as they get the bases loaded, but Tyler White's deep fly ball to right center field is flagged down to end a potential go-ahead rally.
The game would go to extra innings.
After a scoreless 10th inning, Louisville would make a run in the top of the 11th. After working the bases loaded off Gwinnett reliever Tyler Ferguson, Michael Papierski would get his 2nd RBI of the game. However, Steven Layton's seeing eye 2 RBI double would expand the Louisville lead to 6-3.
The Stripers' Taylor Motter would deliver a RBI sacrifice fly to make it a 6-4 game, but the Bats' Kyle Dowdy would shut the door to preserve the victory and earn his 1st save of the season.
Louisville's Michael Papierski (2 for 3 with 2 RBI's), Steven Leyton (1 for 5 with 2 RBI's), and Juniel Querecuto (2 for 5 with 2 runs scored and a stolen base [his 10th of the year]) lead the offense. Dauri Moreta would earn the win (1 IP with a strikeout, improving to 3-4 on the season). Gwinnett's Tyler Ferguson takes the loss, dropping to 0-5 on the season (1 IP, allowing 3 runs [2 earned] on 1 hit with 2 strikeouts and 3 walks). On offense, Ryan Casteel (1 for 4 with 2 RBI's), Justyn-Henry Malloy (1 for 4 with 1 RBI), and Jake Marisnick (2 for 5) set the tone for the offense (click HERE for the complete box score).
The season ending series for both teams takes place on Wednesday, September 28th, at 12:05pm at Coolray Field.
Notes: All video and photography recorded by Andrew Snorton.
Video: The first video is our full pregame interview with Gwinnett's Justyn-Henry Malloy. He's a 2021 draft pick (6th round) of the Atlanta Braves and this year, he's progressed from A Rome to the AAA Stripers; the second video is a compilation from pregame to the 4th inning.
Photos (from left to right and top to bottom): The first row (top) catches the Stripers' battery (Alan Rangel, who is making his AAA debut and catcher Ryan Casteel) and Chopper (the Stripers' mascot). The second row shows the coaching staffs of both teams exchanging lineup cards and Gwinnett's Rangel gearing up for the top of the 1st inning. The third row catches the Stripers' dugout focused on the game and Louisville starter Justin Dunn preparing to face the Gwinnett lineup. The fourth row catches the Bats' Ronnie Dawson in scoring position and Isaiah Gilliam (who would drive in a run for the Bats) looking to make an early push. The fifth row depicts the Stripers' Taylor Motter swiping second base (a stolen base, his 2nd of the year) and the Bats' Steven Leyton at the plate. The sixth row provides a closeup of the Stripers' Justyn-Henry Malloy just before delivering a RBI to cut the Bats' lead to 2-1 as well as a member of the Bats in scoring position. The seventh (bottom) row shows Louisville's Robert Dugger taking the hill (pitcher's mound) and Gwinnett's Tyler White and Justyn-Henry Malloy scoring on Ryan Casteel's 2 RBI single.