BILOXI, Miss. (Biloxi Shuckers) - A pair of early two-run hits Tuesday night materialized a four-run lead and eventual 7-1 victory for the Biloxi Shuckers (29-22) in their first meeting of 2019 with the Tennessee Smokies (25-25). Alec Bettinger (W, 2-4) delivered another commanding start on the mound at MGM Park to help push Biloxi’s record to a season best seven games above the .500 mark.
Bettinger struck out a pair in the first and worked with a quick lead after the offense sparked in the bottom of the inning. Trent Grisham doubled with one out and Smokies starter Oscar De La Cruz (L, 2-2) walked Jake Gatewood to put two on. Dillon Thomas then doubled in both runners to extend his hitting streak to nine games and open a 2-0 lead.
The stretch of perfect baseball continued for Bettinger who retired his first ten batters faced and struck out five in the process. Vimael Machin broke up the early perfect-game bid with a fourth-inning single and Tennessee’s offense loaded the bases with two outs. Gioskar Amaya flied into center and Bettinger escaped his fourth scoreless inning. The right-hander worked through six complete without allowing a run, striking out six and walking just one.
Two-out trouble for De La Cruz led to another pair of runs for the Shuckers in the bottom of the second inning. Bettinger and Luis Aviles Jr. drew walks to extend the frame and Grisham smashed his second triple in as many games for the 4-0 advantage.
Patrick Leonard belted a solo home run to left field in the fifth, Aviles provided an RBI single in the sixth and Weston Wilson scored Gatewood in the seventh with a sacrifice fly. Biloxi finished with nine hits on the night and scored a run in five of their first seven innings. Marcos Diplan surrendered the only run in the seventh when the Smokies worked three straight two-out singles with Connor Myers scoring Gioskar Amaya.