DANVILLE, Va. – Courtesy: Danville Braves
The Danville Braves began their 2019 season in a thrilling fashion, defeating the Princeton Rays 3-2 and 12-10 in an opening day doubleheader after a rainout on Tuesday. The D-Braves came from behind to capture both games in front of 1,207 fans at Legion Field as part of a daytime doubleheader, with the first game starting at 11 a.m.
Ray Hernandez finished the day with six RBI, all of them coming in the second game. He hit a big grand slam that helped key a comeback from a five-run deficit. Cody Milligan had three hits, with his first career hit coming via a walk-off home run to win the first game of the day.
In the first game, offense came at a premium, with both teams getting strong pitching performances. Danville struck first in the first frame, with an RBI single from Bryce Ball scoring Victor De Hoyos for the first run of the season. Princeton answered in the fifth inning with a Yunior Martinez homer to knot it all up at 1.
Shortened to seven innings as part of the doubleheader, the game was still tied at 1-1 after seven. In the eighth inning, with the extra-innings rule of starting with a runner on second base, Brett Wisely hit a sacrifice fly to score a second run for the Rays. Danville pitcher Alex Aquino struck out the next two batters he faced to hold the deficit to a single run. In the bottom of the inning, with one out and Michael Mateja standing on second, Milligan secured his first career hit with a two-run walk-off homer to right center field to give Danville the victory.
The second game started off hot for the D-Braves, as Hernandez hit a two-run double to open up the scoring in the first inning. Willie Carter hit an RBI single to score Hernandez, and Charles Reyes drove in Carter with a groundout to first to put Danville up 4-0. The Rays answered with a nine-run second inning, but the D-Braves responded immediately with Hernandez hitting a grand slam to make it 9-8 after the second frame.
Princeton extended its lead to two with a solo home run from Diego Infante in the fifth inning, but once again the D-Braves took no time to answer, plating three in the bottom of the inning. Bryce Ball launched his first career home run to right field for the first run, and Milligan drew a bases-loaded walk to tie it up at 10 before Reyes later scored on a wild pitch to give Danville an 11-10 lead. Ball scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to tack on an insurance run that wasn't needed, as Albinson Volquez pitched two perfect innings in relief to earn the save. Miguel Jerez got the win, allowing three hits and three runs in four innings.
Filyer Sanchez turned in a strong effort in his Danville debut in the first game. Sanchez gave up five hits and just one run in five innings before turning the ball over to the bullpen. Zach Daniels pitched two innings of scoreless ball before D-Braves manager Anthony Nunez turned to Alex Aquino in the eighth inning. Aquino gave up one unearned run but struck out two to earn the win.
The D-Braves will go for a series sweep tomorrow, June 20, against Princeton. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.