Barons top Braves behind big 8th inning
by W. Brian Hale
Jun 25, 2012 | 1064 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Birmingham's Seth Loman watches his two-run home run leave the park during Monday's win over Mississippi. Photo by: Johnathan Bentley
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HOOVER — When the Birmingham Barons needed a big hit to break a 5-5 eighth-inning tie with the Mississippi Braves on Monday, the team turned to Jake Oester — a familiar face from the 2011 squad — to contribute a two-run RBI that would help the Barons clinch a series-ending 9-5 victory at Regions Park in Hoover.

Oester, who played in 49 games for the Barons last season, capped off his return to the team with the clutch at-bat after being promoted from Chicago White Sox Single-A affiliate Winston-Salem on June 22, driving in Seth Loman and Erik Morrison to spark a four-run rally.

“I got off to a slow start early in the game and told myself to be more aggressive in the zone,” Oester said. “(Mississippi Braves pitcher Brent) Leach threw a changeup and I got it to fall in the zone for the hit — It was a great way to make a return and hopefully, we all as a team can keep this positive momentum going.”

Damaso Espino got the Barons on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning, driving in Andy Wilkins on an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

Birmingham’s offense exploded in the third inning — first on RBI singles by Jose Martinez and Morrison and then on two-run home run by Seth Loman to put the Barons further ahead 5-0.

Loman, who was 2 for 3 on the day with two runs scored, a double and two RBIs, has been a top producer in the five-game series with the Braves — connecting on 9 of 17 hits, recording two home runs, four RBIs and scoring seven runs.

Mississippi would put together a good offense series of their own — scoring three runs off a triple by Todd Cunningham, followed by an additional run scored on a catcher interference error by Espino in the sixth inning. Cunningham drove Tim Smith home with an RBI single in the eighth inning to tie the game at 5-5.

Following Oester’s two-run RBI in the bottom of the eighth and another score on an error, Tyler Saladino drove in Espino on an sacrifice fly to help reach the 9-5 final.

Espino went 3 for 4 on the afternoon, with an RBI and a run scored.

Morrison was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Saladino and Martinez went 1 for 4, both with a double, run scored and an RBI, while Wilkins was 1 for 4 with a double. Kenny Williams was 1 for 4.

On the mound, Pedro Hernandez had a great outing in his first action since returning from the disabled list — giving up only two hits in four shutout innings, while striking out two batters. Matt Wickwat gave up three hits, three earned runs, three walks and two strikeouts in one and one-third innings of relief. Ryan Kussmaul picked up the win, pitching two innings and giving up four hits.

The Barons (33-41) travel to Kodiak, Tenn. to take on the Tennessee Smokies today, with a 6:15 p.m. start time.

NOTES: Loman’s two-run home run was his 11th of the year, placing him at fouth in the Southern League’s home run leaders...Saladino’s stolen base in the third inning was his 25th of the season, tying him for first place in the league.