The Danville Braves went from their final off day of the season to a doubleheader Thursday night. Hosting the Greenville Reds, Danville struggled to get back on track. In both games, the Braves scored one in the bottom of the first inning, but neither lead survived as the Reds earned a 7-2 win in Game 1 and then a 2-1 win in Game 2.
It’s not often that games in the Appalachian League begin earlier than 7 p.m. That’s what both teams had to adjust to, with the doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.
Through four innings of the seven-inning game one, the Braves led 1-0 and had the only hit of the game as well. In the fifth inning, about an hour into the game, the Reds’ bats were awoken to the tune of four runs to take control and then cruised through the final few innings to earn a 7-2 win over Danville.
Danville starting pitcher Matt Rowland was cruising through four innings. The Greenville lineup showed hardly any resistance as Rowland got through four innings in less than 10 pitches per inning, but a Reniel Ozuna single was all the Reds needed to wake up. Jonathon Willems followed with a single of his own before Rowland got the second out with a strikeout. With two outs, Hunter Oliver got the Reds on the board to level the score at 1-1 with a single to center. Greenville took the lead on the next swing of the bat as Miguel Hernandez hit a fly ball that barely carried far enough to clear the left field wall for a three-run home run to make it 4-1.
For good measure the Reds added three more runs in the top of the seventh inning off of relief pitcher Mitch Stallings. The inning began with two bloop-singles and then Hernandez collected his fourth RBI of the game out of the nine spot in the Greenville line up with a line drive signle to left field to make it 5-1. A single and a throwing error made it 6-1 and passed ball two batters later allowed Greenville’s seventh run to score.
Danville drew first blood as it took an inning or so for Greenville starting pitcher Josiah Gray to get comfortable on the bump for the early start. He got started by walking Luis Mejia and then hitting Greg Cullen. After two quick outs, Justin Smith reached base on an infield single to bring home Mejia to make it 1-0.
That was the last time Danville would get a base runner until the bottom of the seventh inning. Gray’s day ended after five strong innings. He allowed just the one run on one hit with a walk and give strikeouts. Jerry D’Andrea came in as relief in the sixth inning for the Reds.
Justin Smith reached on an error with one out and then Nick Vizcaino reached on an infield single before an E1 allowed Smith to score to make it 7-2 before the D’Andrea closed the door on his second save of the season.
After falling in Game 1, the Braves came out in Game 2 and got a leadoff single by Luis Mejia. He then moved to third on an error and scored on an RBI single by Brett Langhorne.
That was the only run the Braves were able to scratch across as Greenville’s starting pitcher, Miguel Medrano, recorded a season-high nine strikeouts over six innings and held the Braves to just six hits.
Danville went with Trey Riley to start the second game. Playing in just his fourth appearance of the summer and his second start, Riley went two full innings, allowing no runs on one hit and struck out four. The longest he had worked in his three previous outings was 1 and 2/3 innings.
Tanner Allison worked a clean third inning and then Bradey Welsh pitched a clean fourth inning to keep Danville's 1-0 lead. Mason McReaken entered in the fifth inning and got out that inning with the lead still intact, but lost the lead in the sixth with two hits, an error and a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
McReaken came back out in the seventh and things went downhill from there. He hit three batters in a row, one that came to score on a wild pitch. Connor Simmons came in with one away in the inning and defused the situation with a quick double play to end the inning.
The Braves (29-26) and Reds (22-32) will square off on Friday and then again on Saturday with both games set to begin at 7 p.m.