JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp right fielder John Norwood hit his third walk-off home run of the season in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 3-2 win – the first-place club’s third in four days – over the Biloxi Shuckers in front of 5,819 on Wednesday afternoon’s Big Splash Day at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Norwood led off the bottom of the 10th inning against Shuckers left-hander Nick Ramirez (4-3). The first three pitches were balls, but Norwood hit the next offering to the right-field bleachers for his 14th home run – tied with teammate Brian Anderson for third in the Southern League and first in the South Division. Norwood has 10 home runs at the Baseball Grounds this season, including walk-off home runs April 30 against Mobile and May 20 against Mississippi.
Right-hander Omar Bencomo made his first second-half start and went the first five scoreless innings against Jacksonville (11-9 second half, 41-49 overall). He scattered three hits and one walk with four strikeouts. He twice picked off baserunners from first base to keep Biloxi (9-11, 45-44) without a runner in scoring position. Shuckers right-hander Freddy Peralta also had a scoreless start until the sixth inning. With two outs, he hit Anderson with a pitch, and Norwood singled to center field. Left-hander Quintin Torres-Costa entered to face catcher Cam Maron, who hit an RBI single to left field for a 1-0 lead. Peralta allowed an earned run on three hits and a walk and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
The 1-0 lead lasted until the eighth inning. With one out, right-hander Severino Gonzalez allowed third baseman Javier Betancourt’s single and catcher Dustin Houle’s two-run home run to right field, giving Biloxi a 2-1 lead. Right-hander Jorge Lopez began the bottom of the eighth inning and allowed a leadoff single to first baseman Miguel Rojas, who finished 1-for-3 while playing nine innings in the second game of his rehab assignment in Jacksonville. Norwood singled to put runners at first and third bases, and Maron hit a game-tying sacrifice fly. Gonzalez and Lopez each pitched scoreless ninth innings, although Jacksonville loaded the bases. Right-hander Clayton Mortensen pitched a scoreless top the 10th inning, working around a runner at second base with no outs after first baseman Dustin DeMuth struck out but reached on Maron’s throwing error – a play manager Randy Ready argued before being ejected by home plate umpire Travis Godec.
UP NEXT: The Jumbo Shrimp open a five-game series in Chattanooga at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. They return to Jacksonville Wednesday, July 19, at 7:05 p.m. against the Tennessee Smokies. For Canines & Crustaceans Bark in the Park, the Jumbo Shrimp welcome dogs to the ballpark, free of charge with a paying human companion. Dog-free seating will be available in Sections 110 and 111. Gates open at 6 p.m. for the Date Night Special, when a package of two tickets, two hot dogs, two sodas and popcorn is just $20 at the box office windows.