Trent Grisham belted a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the Biloxi Shuckers (72-54, 31-25) to a 4-3 series-opening win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (63-60, 33-22) on Sunday afternoon at MGM Park. The Shuckers now sit just 2.5 games behind Pensacola for first place in the second half of the Southern League.
Both sides answered the call when they needed clutch base hits. All seven runs were scored over seven different frames, as the game stood tied at one, two and three runs apiece. Both starters kept their teams in the game. RHP Braden Webb allowed just one run over six innings in his second Double-A start for Biloxi, while LHP Seth Varner surrendered three runs throughout his 6.2 innings of work.
Keston Hiura started the scoring with a solo home run to right-centerfield in the bottom of the first, his fifth of the year in a Shuckers uniform. Webb gave up his lone run in the top of the sixth when Gavin LaValley tied the game with a two-out single to plate Shed Long.
Biloxi answered right back in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a solo home run from Clint Coulter that clanked off the left field foul pole, his tenth on the year. In the top of the seventh, the Blue Wahoos tied the game once again when TJ Friedl snuck a line drive inches over the right field wall off LHP Brad Kuntz (BS, 1).
The bottom of the seventh saw the Shuckers grab the lead once again. After a single from Max McDowell, Corey Ray stepped up with two outs and ripped a double to right-centerfield, handing Biloxi a 3-2 advantage. Pensacola answered right back in the top of the eighth with RHP Jon Olczak (W, 9-3) on the mound. Long stood at third base as the tying run after a triple, and LaValley connected on his second straight two-out game-tying knock.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Olczak worked a 1-2-3 to of the ninth to bring the Shuckers to the dish. Grisham worked a 3-1 hitter’s count against RHP Rafael De Paula (L, 3-4) and turned on a fastball, lifting it over the right-field fence to end the game. The solo shot marks the eighth walk-off victory of the year for the Shuckers and the second of the homestand for Grisham.
With the Shuckers just 2.5 games back of first place, RHP Zack Brown (9-0, 2.34) makes his much anticipated Shuckers return off the disabled list on a Doggone Monday at MGM Park presented by Raising Cane’s. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (9-10, 4.24) goes for Pensacola with a 6:35 PM CT first pitch.