(Lawrenceville, GA) – Pawtucket won a game in the ninth inning for the third straight day, this time scoring six runs in the top of the ninth after Gwinnett had rallied from a 9-0 deficit to tie the game with an eight-run eighth and the PawSox defeated the Braves, 15-9, Monday night at Coolray Field to collect their fifth consecutive victory.
Garin Cecchini, who drove in five runs on the night, looped a two-run single to cap the 12-batter, six-hit rally in the ninth against relievers Carlos Fisher and Ryan Buchter. Gwinnett, which trailed 9-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, also sent 12 men to the plate in the eighth against Drake Britton and John Ely in a wild affair that featured a combined 24 runs and 33 hits.
The PawSox, who rallied for ninth-inning victories in Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday, have now scored 12 runs in the final inning over the last three games.
With the victory, Pawtucket (69-54) moved a season-high 15 games above .500 and into a tie for first place with Syracuse in the North Division as the Chiefs fell at home to Charlotte. The squad remained 2.0 games ahead of Rochester in the IL wildcard standings after the Red Wings swept a doubleheader against Durham.
After the first batter was retired in the ninth by Fisher (2-1), the next six men reached including a go-ahead RBI single by Derrik Gibson, an RBI double by Mookie Betts and a two-run single by Bryce Brentz. Fisher allowed five hits and two walks in his 0.2 innings of work.
Buchter later entered to face Cecchini with two outs and the bases loaded, and the PawSox left-fielder delivered his third hit of the game to plate two runs and complete the scoring. John Ely (1-1), who allowed three inherited runners to score in addition to three runs of his own in the eighth, tossed a scoreless ninth to finish the 3 hour and 36 minute marathon.
Pawtucket built its huge early lead by scoring eight times in the first four innings against Gwinnett starter Zach Stewart. Spot-starter Chris Hernandez (five innings, four hits, no runs) and reliever Miguel Celestino held the Braves scoreless until the seventh when Christian Bethancourt’s solo home run (7) made the score 9-1.
Gwinnett then collected six hits in the eighth, four of them against Britton including a solo blast by Elmer Reyes (3). Jose Constanza and Todd Cunningham each picked up two-run singles against Ely, who uncorked a wild pitch to plate Reyes with two outs to knot the score at 9.
Betts (3-for-5, walk, three runs, two doubles, two RBI), Cecchini (3-for-6, five RBI, two doubles) and Gibson (3-for-5, three runs, RBI, double) all had three of Pawtucket’s 19 hits. Brentz drove home three runs while Mike McCoy and Betts each collected a pair of RBI.