Coolray Field hosted what can only be described as a baseball fans dream Tuesday when the Atlanta Braves ended their spring training schedule with a game against the top prospects in the Braves organization, led by legendary manager Bobby Cox. The Braves came from behind to win the first-ever “Atlanta Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game” 4-3. 10,568 fans, a new Coolray Field record, were on hand to be a part of the event. The game was shortened to seven innings due to rain.
The game was the climax of the day’s events, which began with season ticket holders entering and lining up for the Meet the Players Parade at 3:30 p.m. That was just the first of many memorable moments on this night.
Other highlights of the night include the standing ovation the fans gave Cox during the pregame player introductions, which were done World Series style, and Braves’ President John Schuerholtz’s leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the traditional seventh-inning stretch.
Southpaw Sean Gilmartin started for the Future Stars and worked 2.0 innings allowing one run, a moon shot off the bat of Dan Uggla that tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second. It was the only hit the 2011 first-round pick surrendered. Gilmartin enters this season as the fifth-best prospect in the Braves system, as rated by Baseball America.
Mike Minor made his seventh start of the spring and threw 3.0 innings without giving up an earned run while striking out four. Minor needed a strong close to the spring to rebound from his last two starts in which he tossed 9.3 innings and gave up six earned runs while walking nine. Recently signed Livan Hernandez pitched a scoreless inning before Cristhian Martinez was tagged for a pair of runs in the fifth.
The Future Stars held a 3-1 lead going to the home half of the fifth, but Atlanta got to right-hander J.R. Graham for three straight extra base hits and three runs to take the lead. Brian McCann doubled in the winning RBI with a double.
Michael Bourn was the only player from either team to have a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI from the Braves.
The G-Braves open the regular season Thursday in Durham where they will face the division rival Bulls in a four-game set. Gwinnett stars the season with 18 straight games, 10 of which will be on the road.
The Gwinnett Braves are the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, and call Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia (2500 Buford Drive) home.
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