JACKSON, TN. (Biloxi Shuckers) - First half title hopes for the Biloxi Shuckers (40-26) were put on hold Wednesday night following a series-opening 5-1 loss to the Jackson Generals (36-30) at The Ballpark at Jackson. The defense slipped to commit four errors in the game while the offense encountered stingy starting pitching and was held quiet until the eighth.
Jake Gatewood and Patrick Leonard developed an early scoring chance in the first with a pair of two-out singles against Bryan Valdez (W,3-2) but were stranded following a Weston Wilson groundout. Biloxi’s starter Alec Bettinger (L,4-5) managed to strand two runners in scoring position during the second but was tagged for an unearned run in the third. Daulton Varsho doubled and scored on a dropped pop fly with two outs by Luis Aviles Jr. to make it a 1-0 game.
Ben Deluzio singled to lead off the fifth and Pavin Smith added on with an RBI groundout for the first earned run against Bettinger on the night. In the next at bat, Drew Ellis doubled in Smith to make it a 3-0 game while also ending the outing for Bettinger as Marcos Diplan took over from the bullpen. Diplan slowed the Jackson rally and proceeded to toss 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and striking out four.
Despite allowing seven hits, Valdez worked seven scoreless innings for the Generals before theShuckers finally inked a run in the eighth against the left-hander. Trent Grisham led off with a double and two batters later, Patrick Leonard ripped a two-bagger, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Leonard finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate, extending his season-high hitting streak to 14 games.
Jackson responded in the home-half of the eighth and jumped to their largest lead of the game against Nattino Diplan. Jamie Westbrook led off with a single and was tripled home by Ramon Hernandez. Diplan then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Hernandez to score from third and capping the score at 5-1.
The loss coupled with a Pensacola win slims Biloxi’s division lead to three games over the South Division with four games remaining on the first-half schedule.