Gwinnett rallies in ninth, drops Tides, 8-7

Norfolk TidesThe Gwinnett Stripers plated three runs with two outs in the ninth inning to surge past the Norfolk Tides 8-7 Thursday afternoon at Harbor Park.

Trailing 6-5 entering the ninth, Jonathan Morales ignited the rally by leading off the inning with a single off of Tanner Scott (3-4). Scott retired the next two batters, but Drew Waters reached on an infield single before Jack Lopez tied the game with a two-strike single to left field. Johan Camargo followed by lining a two-run double down the left field line, giving the Stripers an 8-6 lead.

The runs Scott surrendered were the first he’s allowed through seven appearances in August. Norfolk’s bullpen had allowed just nine earned runs while posting a 1.11 ERA in August before yielding five runs Thursday.

Austin Hays pulled the Tides within a run in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Chad Sobotka, but Sobotka responded by striking out the next three batters to pick up the save and give the Stripers a split of the four-game set.

Dwight Smith Jr. paced Norfolk’s offense with two hits, including a three-run homer in the second inning off of Gwinnett starter Huascar Ynoa. Smith Jr., who joined the Tides Monday rehabbing a left calf injury, also singled later in the contest and has now batted .438 (7-16) with five RBI over his four rehab contests with the Tides.

Norfolk starter Dean Kremer turned in a solid effort but Gwinnett’s rally denied him of his first Triple-A victory. Making his Harbor Park debut, the 23-year-old right-hander allowed two runs in the first and another in the second before settling in to face the minimum over the final 10 batters he faced. Kremer struck out five – including punching out the side in the third inning – and walked one while throwing 58 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

The Tides led the contest 6-3 from the third through sixth innings, but Gwinnett plated a pair of runs against Hunter Cervenka in the seventh to pull within 6-5. Drew Waters plated Cristian Pache with a sacrifice fly in the frame, while Luis Marte scored on a groundout from Lopez to bring the Stripers within a run.

Five different Tides registered multiple hits in the contest, as Norfolk missed out on an opportunity to capture its first series win against the first place Stripers this season. The Tides have still won four of six series they’ve played in August while posting a 12-7 record.

The Tides will embark on their final road trip of the season Friday night, as they kick off a three-game weekend set in Charlotte. Keegan Akin (5-6, 4.92) is slated to get the start for Norfolk and be opposed by left-hander Matt Tomshaw (3-1, 4.39), with first pitch set for 7:04.

Notes: The Tides turned three double plays Thursday and 10 during the four-game series…With two hits Thursday, Zach Vincej has now hit .318 since the All-Star break…Martin Cervenka singled twice and has now hit safely in all seven games he’s played with the Tides this season…Rylan Bannon singled twice and scored two runs, and he’s now batted .333 (11-33) over his last eight contests.

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