Mississippi Braves win Double-A South championship

Published 9:28 pm Sunday, September 26, 2021

PEARL — Trustmark Park is, once again, the home of champions.

Pitchers Alan Rangel, Brandon White, Jake Higginbotham, and Nolan Kingham combined to retire 20 straight batters, and the Mississippi Braves defeated Montgomery 2-1 on Sunday in the deciding Game 5 of the Double-A South championship series.

The M-Braves claimed their second league championship since moving to Pearl 16 years ago, adding the 2021 Double-A South trophy to the 2008 Southern League trophy.

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The M-Braves recorded the best winning percentage in club history (.604) by finishing 67-44 during the regular season. They won the regular-season Double-A South championship by eight games over the Biscuits, and then went the limit with them in the championship series.

Montgomery won Game 4 on Saturday night, 14-2, to force the winner-take-all matchup Sunday evening at Trustmark Park. The M-Braves’ pitching staff made just enough offense stand up.

After Montgomery scored in the top of the second inning, the M-Braves tied it in the bottom half when Shea Langeliers walked and scored on a double by C.J. Alexander.

In the sixth inning, Greyson Jenista hit a solo home run for what turned out to be the game-winning run. The homer was Jenista’s third of the championship series and 22nd of the season. Overall, the M-Braves hit seven home runs during the five-game series.

The 24-year-old Rangel turned in a brilliant start, allowing one run and striking out eight through six innings. It was his first postseason start and first outing in 11 days.

Rangel gave up a leadoff single to Xavier Edwards in the third inning, then struck out the side and retired 12 batters in a row before handing the ball to the bullpen.

White and Higginbotham pitched a perfect seventh and eighth inning, respectively, and Kingham got the first two outs in the ninth before running into — and then escaping from — trouble.

Ruben Cardenas singled to end the string of 20 consecutive outs, and moved to second base on a passed ball. Finally, Kingham got Cal Stevenson to hit a foul pop up that the third baseman Alexander caught for the final out.