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Trash Pandas stymied by Braves pitching in 6-2 loss

Rocket City suffers sixth straight defeat

BOX SCORE                                                     PEARL, Mississippi – The Rocket City Trash Pandas fell behind early, and the offense was never able to sustain an attack in a 6-2 loss to the Mississippi Braves on Saturday night at Trustmark Park in the fifth game of their six-game series.

After winning in their last at-bat on Friday night, the Braves quickly started the scoring on Saturday. Justyn-Henry Malloy drove in the first run of the night with an RBI single in the first against Trash Pandas starter Brett Kerry.

Rocket City looked to respond in the top of the second against Braves starter Alan Rangel when Jeremiah Jackson reached on a one-out double. However, Rangel struck out Jordyn Adams and Braxton Martinez to end the inning and maintain the lead.

In the bottom of the frame, Mississippi added on three more runs on a sacrifice fly by Cody Milligan and a two-run triple from Vaughn Grissom. An inning later, Drew Lugbauer connected on his 20th home run of the season, a solo shot to dead center field for a 5-0 Braves lead. Kerry would give up one more run in the fifth as Malloy led off the inning with a double and came home to score a sacrifice fly by Riley Delgado against reliever Nick Jones.

Over 4.1 innings, Kerry (L, 2-5) allowed six earned runs on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts to suffer his fifth loss of the season, the most on the Trash Pandas.

For the Braves, Rangel cruised through most of the game. The Trash Pandas put runners on base with walks in the third and fourth, but no runner was able to advance past first base. Rocket City’s next big chance came in the sixth when Bryce Teodosio walked, and Livan Soto doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Rangel wiggled out of the jam by getting a fly out from Zach Humphreys, striking out Preston Palmeiro, and inducing a comebacker from Kevin Maitan to keep the lead at 6-0.

Rangel (W, 4-3) departed after six scoreless innings for the Braves, allowing two hits while walking three and striking out seven to pick up the win.

Jones pitched 1.2 clean innings for the Trash Pandas in relief. Cristopher Molina entered in the seventh and fired two clean innings of his own.

The Trash Pandas finally broke through in the eighth when Ryan Aguilar crushed an opposite-field solo home run to left-center, his 10th of the season to tie for the Rocket City team lead. Teodosio followed with a double and later came home to score on Humphreys’ ground out to short, cutting the Mississippi advantage to 6-2. That would be it for the visitors, as Mississippi reliever Justin Yeager threw a scoreless ninth to finish the win, handing the Trash Pandas their sixth straight loss to tie for the longest losing streak of the season.

Aguilar went 1-for-2 with the home run and a walk, his team-leading 50th base on balls of the season to rank among the Southern League leaders.

The Trash Pandas (50-36, 9-8 second half) wrap up their series with the Braves (42-44, 13-4 second half) on Sunday afternoon at Trustmark Park. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.

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