LAWRENCEVILLE — No batting practice? No problem.
With rain halting the pregame warm-ups for the Gwinnett Braves and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, both teams proved that batting practice was a mere formality, combining to hit five home runs and pound out 16 hits on Friday at Gwinnett Stadium.
But even though the total set a Gwinnett Stadium record for most homers hit in a game, an Alvin Colina bloop single to left field proved to be the difference in Gwinnett’s 5-4 win over the visiting Yankees.
With the game tied 4-4 and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh, Colina, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts prior to the at bat, hit a 2-0 pitch into short left field that scored J.C. Holt for the game-winning run.
"He struggled tonight, but comes through with the biggest hit of the game," Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said of Colina. "And how far did it go? 140 feet?"
While his hit didn’t travel as far as the home runs that preceded it, Colina’s single provided Gwinnett (34-28) with a one-run cushion that the bullpen duo of Juan Perez and Luis Valdez didn’t relinquish.
"We’re scratching and clawing for wins," Brundage said. "Our bullpen has been outstanding all year and when we do have a lead, they shut the door on a lot of teams."
Brundage was especially happy for Valdez, who blew a save on June 9 against Columbus.
"It was big for Valdez because he’s been scuffling," Brundage said. "He came back with the right frame of mind and he wanted the ball."
So too did Gwinnett starter Tony Armas, who became the first Gwinnett pitcher to complete six innings since Todd Redmond threw eight innings on May 30.
"I’m feeling better," said Armas, who struck out four batters. "Every time I go out there, my arm’s feeling much better."
Armas’ only two mistakes were home runs surrendered to Juan Miranda and Shelley Duncan, whose three-run shot in the fifth gave the Yankees (36-25) a 4-3 lead.
"One pitch," Armas said. "That’s part of the game. That’s a good team and you can’t make a mistake to them."
His first mistake to Miranda caused bit of a controversy, as the Yankees first baseman hit a ball that appeared to bounce off the wall and into fair territory. In actuality, the ball hit
beyond the left field wall and landed in front of the auxiliary scoreboard. After third base umpire Manny Gonzalez ran to see where the ball was located, he ruled it a home run. Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage argued the call, and the umpires confirmed that the correct call was made.
"I still don’t know what it did," Brundage said. "I went out there with honestly no idea. The guys told me it was a homer, and if they didn’t I probably wouldn’t have seen the rest of the game."
That means he wouldn’t have seen Kody Kirkland’s game-tying solo home run in the third inning or Brooks Conrad’s two-run shot later in the third that gave Gwinnett a 3-1 lead.
"On a muggy night like tonight, the balls were flying out of here," said Brundage, whose team hit three home runs in a game for the first time this season.
The third home run came off the bat of Reid Goreki in the bottom of the fifth inning that tied the score at 5.
Two innings later, Colina came through with the game-winning single.
Gwinnett continues its series with the Yankees at 7 tonight with Jonny Venters making his first AAA start for the Braves and Casey Fossum (6-4, 2.34 ERA) going for the Yankees.