Braves Mow Down Morimando and Clippers for Game 3 Win; Braves 11, Clippers 1
Bob Toth | On 10, Sep 2016
Gwinnett jumped on Columbus starter Shawn Morimando early and often as the Braves rolled to an easy 11-1 victory over the Clippers from Georgia on Friday night to take a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-five International League’s Governors’ Cup Semifinals.
The G-Braves gave starter Chris Ellis an early cushion on the mound, striking for two runs in the bottom of the first against Columbus’ Morimando. With one down, Mel Rojas Jr. singled and stole second before a walk by Ronnier Mustelier. Blake Lalli singled to right to load the bases and Sean Kazmar lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Rojas Jr. with the first run. A wild pitch from Morimando let a second run score before a fly ball ended the inning.
Gwinnett made it a 5-0 game the next inning. Tyler Moore walked and moved to third on a single from Reid Brignac. Braeden Schlehuber reached on a fielder’s choice, but first baseman Jesus Aguilar was able to gun down Moore at the plate trying to score. After retiring Emilio Bonifacio for the second out, Rojas Jr. continued his big start to the night with a double to left, scoring both runners to make it a four-run lead. A single to right by Mustelier scored Rojas Jr. to push the lead to 5-0.
It would be more than enough for Ellis, who struck out the side to start the game and four of the first five hitters. He did not allow his first base runner until the two-out mark of the fourth when Giovanny Urshela singled to center, but was left stranded on a fly out from Aguilar. Bradley Zimmer reached on an error with two outs the next inning, but was left at first as the Gwinnett offense reared up for another explosion at the plate.
After Morimando struck out Bonifacio, Rojas Jr. tripled to center and scored easily on a grounder to center by Mustelier to start the bottom half of the fifth. A fly out from Lalli was good for the second out, but Kazmar singled and Rio Ruiz walked to load the bases. Moore unloaded them as he unloaded on a Morimando offering with a grand slam to left-center. Morimando exited for reliever T.J. House, but the first batter he saw, Brignac, went deep as well, capping the six-run inning to make it an 11-0 blowout.
Buried in an insurmountable hole, Columbus got a single in the sixth from Yandy Diaz and a similar effort from Guillermo Quiroz in the seventh, but could do nothing against Ellis to move the runners around.
They had a little better success against the G-Braves’ Steve Kent, who entered in the eighth after seven strong innings from Ellis. The Clippers got a leadoff single from Joey Butler and Collin Cowgill walked to give Columbus their first inning with two runners on. One out later, Rodriguez singled to center to load the bases and Urshela lifted a fly to center to score Butler with the Clippers’ lone run of the game. Aguilar was struck out with two in scoring position to end the inning.
Quiroz doubled for his second hit in the ninth against Kent, but a strikeout from Zimmer and a ground out from Butler ended the game.
Ellis was the driving force for the Braves, giving his club seven scoreless innings on the mound with three hits allowed and eight strikeouts. Rojas led the Braves offense with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with two RBI, coming up a homer short of a postseason cycle. Moore’s grand slam was his only hit in four plate appearances.
Morimando was destroyed to the tune of ten runs on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings. He walked three and struck out two.
Game 4 is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET from Coolray Field in Gwinnett on Saturday night. Right-hander Toru Murata (9-4, 3.78 ERA) will look to even the series up for the Clippers, while fellow right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (9-3, 2.47) will look to continue his strong performance on the mound, as he has not lost for the Braves since the end of May. A win for Gwinnett will send them to the Governors’ Cup Finals.