Baseball can be a fickle mistress.
After allowing Bristol to score the go-ahead run in the top half of the 10th inning, the Danville Braves bounced back, scoring a pair of runs in their half of the 10th, in a 3-2 victory over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Dan Daniel Park.
AJ Graffanino, who just arrived in Danville this week after playing for Washington in the College World Series, drove in the tying run on his line drive to right field that allowed Nicholas Shumpert to score. With Carlos Baerga Jr. on third base, Brendan Venter stepped up and knocked a sacrifice fly to right field that brought home Baerga Jr. with the game-winning run.
Graffanino, the son of former Atlanta Braves utility man Tony Graffanino, used a little advice given by his dad in his final at-bat of the afternoon.
“I kept thinking about him telling me this is a game of failure,” Graffanino said. “He always told me that, and that all I could do was keep putting my best foot forward and give high effort every time I take that field. I thought about that today when I came up in extras, and it helped me come through for my squad.”
Bristol (6-6) was stymied by Danville’s pitching staff most of the game as starter Matt Rowland and relief pitchers Tanner Allison and Jacob Belinda teamed up to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard for nearly eight innings.
However, for Danville (6-6), the shutout was not meant to be.
Brendt Citta’s double to center brought Mikell Granberry home to score Bristol’s first run and knot the score at 1.
Two innings later, the Pirates took a 2-1 advantage when Granberry scored his second run of the game on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th.
However, the Braves’ bullpen stayed collected and their offense came through with some timely production.
“I don’t know what it is about this group of guys,” D-Braves manager Barrett Kleinknecht said after the game. “We haven’t always
had the breaks go our way this season, but nine out of 10 times we find a way to bounce back and make something happen when we really need to.”
After Rowland and Bristol starter Shane Baz battled each other to a scoreless tie through the first three innings, Henry Quintero took a Baz slider and sent it towering over the wall in left for his first professional home run and a 1-0 Braves lead.
Rowland pitched a strong four innings for the Braves, allowing only three hits and surrendering no runs, while striking out a pair. Allison pitched three innings in relief, giving up only two hits and striking out five. Belinda found himself in the unusual position of picking up his second blown save of the season, but in the end, his three innings of four-hit ball were enough to help him earn the victory.
Danville takes on Bristol on Monday in the second of the four-game series with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.