PawSox Beat Braves on Bryce Brentz Walk-Off Homer in the 9th at McCoy
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Bryce Brentz drilled a walk-off home run on a line to left, and Héctor Velázquez tossed six perfect innings, as the Pawtucket Red Sox earned a 2-0 win over the Gwinnett Braves on Sunday afternoon at McCoy Stadium.
“Just happy to get some barrel to it,” Brentz said. “We had a great pitching matchup, great start by Héctor. Just lucky to be in position to do something to help the team win.”
Brentz’s blast in the ninth was only the third hit for the PawSox (10-12) and the fifth overall of the game, as Pawtucket forced the series split with the Braves (14-9) in a well-played pitchers’ duel.
The 28-year old Velázquez, who the Red Sox signed out of the Mexican League in mid-February, fanned four and needed merely 55 pitches (40 strikes) to log six frames. In just his third-ever Triple-A start, Velázquez reached only one three-ball count (against former Phillies great Ryan Howard in the second inning) and a pair of two-ball counts.
“He was terrific,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “He was capped out at six innings. That was what we were going to do. That was already put in play before the game. Boy, he was very efficient, terrific.
“[The Red Sox] were cognizant of [the innings] when they signed him. There was a lot of innings he threw over in Mexico within this past year. The innings have been slowly but surely building up. He’s gone five innings. But the six is the max he’s gonna go so far. So the amount of innings he’s thrown this year, they’re keeping that in mind and in play.”
PawSox third baseman Matt Dominguez backed up Velázquez in the fourth with a gorgeous diving stop near the bag. Following a 21-minute rain delay before the start of the fifth, the righty responded with a five-pitch frame.
During the six-game homestand, Pawtucket starting pitchers only yielded six earned runs in 36 innings, compiling a 1.50 ERA. The six starters piled up 31 strikeouts.
“Our starting pitching has kept us in every game,” Boles said. “We’re gonna eventually score some runs for them.”
Gwinnett starter and top-100 prospect Sean Newcomb, meanwhile, twirled a gem of his own. The 23-year old from Middleboro, Massachusetts, stacked up a career-high-tying 11 strikeouts over seven innings of one-hit ball. The powerful Newcomb, who pitched at the University of Hartford, delighted a vocal crowd of family and friends.
“The Braves should be excited to have that arm,” Boles said.
Pawtucket lefty Robbie Ross Jr. (W, 1-0) worked a scoreless top of the ninth, and Braves reliever Caleb Dirks (L, 1-1) served up the winner.
Rehabbing Red Sox utility man Brock Holt played seven innings in left field for the first time during his rehab assignment. The 2015 All-Star went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against Newcomb’s mid-90s fastball.
Neither team recorded a hit until Pawtucket cleanup man Sam Travis blooped a one-out single down the right-field line in the bottom of the fourth.
Moments after PawSox left-hander Edgar Olmos replaced Velázquez for the seventh, Braves top prospect Ozzie Albies stroked a leadoff single to left.
Pawtucket placed runners at second and third with one out in the eighth but could not capitalize against Dirks.
In the ninth, PawSox designated hitter Steve Selsky yanked a two-out single to left before Brentz sent a crowd of more than 6,000 home.
After Monday’s off day, the PawSox begin a six-game road trip Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. against the Syracuse Chiefs. Pawtucket left-hander Brian Johnson (0-0, 2.87) is scheduled to oppose Chiefs righty Austin Voth (1-2, 6.35).