Dean’s inside-the-park home run, strong pitching carry M-Braves to matinee victory

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

PEARL — One of baseball’s most exciting plays and some dominant pitching helped the Mississippi Braves stay as hot as the afternoon sun.

Justin Dean hit an inside-the-park home run and Scott Blewett pitched six scoreless innings as the M-Braves beat the Birmingham Barons 7-2 in a Wednesday matinee at Trustmark Park.

It was the Braves’ fifth win in their last six games. The surge has pulled them back to .500 with a 32-32 record as they finish the first half of the Southern League season with this week’s series.

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Dean’s home run broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning. He hit a long fly ball that banged off the right field wall behind Birmingham’s Ben Norman, who jumped and missed it. By the time center fielder Yoelqui Cespedes chased down the ball, Dean was rounding third and he scored without a play at the plate.

It was the fourth home run of the season for Dean, who returned to the M-Braves this week after a brief stint with Triple-A Gwinnett.

Javier Valdes added an RBI double later in the fifth inning, and then the M-Braves scored twice more in the sixth and three times in the seventh to take a 7-0 lead. Beau Philip hit an RBI double and scored on a double steal, and Hudson Potts hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning.

Dean, Cal Conley and Luke Waddell all had two hits. Waddell is batting .298 in 30 games for the M-Braves this season.

Blewett had five strikeouts in six scoreless innings in one of his best outings of the season.It was the first time in 11 starts that he has not allowed a run, and the six innings matched a season high.

Relievers Ty Tice and Kyle Wilcox followed with one scoreless inning each. Trey Riley gave up two runs in the ninth but closed out the game without the Barons seriously threatening to get back in it.

Wednesday’s afternoon start was the M-Braves’ annual “camp day” and the announced crowd of 2,805 included a number of children from various day cares and summer camps. Dean stayed about 30 minutes after the game to sign autographs for a number of them.

It was also game two of a six-game homestand for the M-Braves as they take on the Barons.

Game three is Thursday at 6:35 p.m., and will be Southern Miss Night at Trustmark Park. Southern Miss baseball players Nick Monistere and Dustin Dickerson, retiring baseball head coach Scott Berry and men’s basketball head coach Jay Ladner will all be honored before the game. All fans wearing Southern Miss gear will get a $5 ticket.

Friday’s promotions include an Austin Riley bobblehead giveaway, kids run the bases after the game, and the Trustmark $10K Dash for Cash. Ten fans will be selected to run through the Trustmark Park outfield after the game and collect as much cash as possible. The game starts at 6:35 p.m.

Saturday’s game starts at 6:05 p.m. and will have a postgame fireworks show afterward. Sunday’s series finale is at 2:05 p.m. and is Sunday Family Funday. For $25 per person, fans get a ticket, hat, hot dog and drink voucher. Tickets must be purchased at the M-Braves box office at Trustmark Park.

The M-Braves’ next home series is July 4-9 vs. Montgomery.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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