by Hunter Dawkins
In the opening series of the season, the 2019 Biloxi Shuckers got off to an interesting start at the MGM Park in Biloxi. Two weather suspensions on Thursday and Saturday caused a few short inning contests early on, but the home standing Shuckers won 3 out of 5 games.
Following the opening day cancellation of Thursday’s matchup due to severe weather, Biloxi put their first runs of 2019 on the board in the bottom of the first thanks to the longball. Weston Wilson and Patrick Leonard delivered back-to-back two-out singles before Dillon Thomas blasted a three-run homer to left field off Birmingham pitcher Tanner Banks (L, 0-1), putting Biloxi up 3-0.
Shuckers Starter Marcos Diplan sat the side down in order in the top of the first inning but departed in the second after walking three batters and allowing two runs on a sacrifice fly and a single. The Shuckers brought in Johan Belisario with runners on the corners and struck out Luis Gonzalez, eliminating the Birmingham threat in the second.
Trent Grisham widened the Shuckers advantage with a two-run homer to right in the bottom of the second. For the night, Grisham went 3-for-6 with a double, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored. Devin Williams (W, 1-0) tossed 3.1 innings of long relief for the Shuckers, allowing just one run on three hits.
In the sixth, Alfredo Gonzalez walked and Joel Booker singled, his third hit of the game, to put runners on the corners with one out. Shuckers closer Nate Griep (S, 1) entered the game and locked down the five-out save, striking out two in his 1.2 innings of work while not allowing a hit.
The Shuckers wrapped up the doubleheader sweep on Friday night behind six shutout innings from Spunk and another early spark from the offense, topping the Barons 5-0 in game two.
Dillon Thomas enjoyed his second straight three-RBI game and Grisham notched a multi-hit effort to cap a strong opening night showing.
In his return to Biloxi, Supak retired the side in order to open the game and was quickly padded with a pair of early runs. Grisham doubled off Baron’s starter Jimmy Lambert (L, 0-1) and scored on a wild pitch. C.J. Hinojosa singled and scored on a Thomas RBI-fielders’ choice to make it 2-0 in the first.
Flashing the leather, Weston Wilson helped Supak escape a third-inning jam, corralling a tricky ground ball on the hot corner and initiating a 5-4-3 double-play to end the frame.
In the fifth inning, eight Shuckers stepped to the plate against reliever Brian Clark. Hinojosa plated Alexander Alvarez with a sacrifice fly and Thomas knocked in two more with a right-field single to make it 5-0.
In his first winning decision of the season, Supak (W, 1-0) retired eight in a row to finish off his night where he surrendered just two hits and struck out three. Mississippi State product, Daniel Brown, worked the seventh out of the bullpen and stranded the bases loaded to complete the shutout.
“They are a good hitting team that run the bases pretty well,” said Supak after starting the series off right in 2019. “It’s always good to get the first one out of the way with something to build on.”
The Shuckers starter Thomas Jankins (W, 1-0) fired the first complete game of his career to help the Biloxi Shuckers top the Birmingham Barons 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at MGM Park. The 23-year-old allowed just one unearned run and struck out six, retiring the final 17 batters that he faced in the win.
Jankins allowed his lone run in the first inning. Luis Gonzalez reached and advanced to second base on a throwing error by shortstop C.J. Hinojosa and moved to third on a groundout by Blake Rutherford. Yermin Mercedes then delivered an RBI single to put Birmingham on the board.
Biloxi’s offense responded immediately in the home half of the first. Trent Grisham singled and motored around to third as Hinojosa reached on a throwing error by Barons’ starter Matt Tomshaw (L, 0-1). Dillon Thomas then knotted the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to left, his seventh RBI of the season in just three games played.
In the second, Trey Michalczewski started the frame with a single but was cancelled out on a double play ball from Ti’Quan Forbes. After the double play, Jankins sat down the side in order in each of the final five innings, striking out five while inducing four groundball outs and eight flyball outs. It’s the 11th complete game in Shuckers history and the first since Zack Brown tossed a complete game shutout against the Mississippi Braves on June 15, 2018.
The Shuckers took the lead for good in the bottom of the second inning. Blake Allemand doubled on a high pop fly in the infield that danced away from Barons second baseman Ramon Torres. Two batters later, Alexander Alvarez recorded his first Double-A hit, an RBI single to right to plate Allemand. Grisham followed with a bunt single and Alvarez came in to score on a Hinojosa RBI single, giving Biloxi their 3-1 edge.
The series finished Monday with a 5-3 loss to the Barons on a few late inning errors. Following a day off on Tuesday the Shuckers will travel to Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery for their first series meeting with the Biscuits (2-2). Marcos Diplan (0-0, 10.80) is scheduled to start for the Shuckers and be opposed by Brendan McKay (0-0, -.–) with first pitch at 6:35 pm.
The game can be heard locally on Crusin’ WGCM AM 1240/100.9 FM, online on TuneIn Radio and on the MiLB First Pitch app.