Marlins top Braves in historic Fort Bragg Game

July 4th, 2016

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A strong sense of patriotism filled the air as Adam Conley extended his recent dominance of the Braves, benefiting from the two-run fifth inning Matt Wisler endured in the Marlins' 5-2 win on Sunday night at Fort Bragg Field in the first Major League game played on an active military base.
Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich capped his three-hit night by recording the second of the two RBI singles Wisler surrendered during a decisive two-run fifth inning. Conley scattered four hits over six innings to run his scoreless streak against the Braves to 14 innings. The Marlins secured a split of this four-game series, which began with three games at Turner Field.
Wisler seemed to be in a groove as he traded zeros with Conley through the first four innings, but his good fortune ran out after Adeiny Hechavarria opened the fifth with a triple. Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, who homered in the ninth inning, joined Martin Prado and Yelich to account for the three RBI singles recorded off the right-hander, who has received two runs or fewer of support in seven of his past eight starts.
Everything from the player introductions to the flyover separated the game from anything the players and coaches had previously experienced.
For Braves, Fort Bragg visit about more than just a game

"Probably the best venue that I've ever played in," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I had the chance to play at Yankee Stadium, the playoffs. There is nothing like tonight."
Realmuto, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored batting leadoff, has the distinction of hitting the first homer at Fort Bragg Field.
"It was definitely special," Realmuto said. "Any time you can be the first to do something like that before a crowd like this, kind of give these guys a show, was really special for me."
After blowing his first save opportunity of the season on Friday, Marlins closer A.J. Ramos was given a chance to get back on track, entering in the ninth inning with a five-run lead, but he ended up surrendering a pair of runs, on Erick Aybar's double and A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly.

"We tried to make it a little game there in the ninth inning," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, "but it's tough off those guys."
Yelich puts on a show: The Fort Bragg experience was special for Yelich, who has a brother in the Marines. Leading up to the game, he spoke about his appreciation for those who serve and noted that he hoped to put on a good show. He did his part with three hits and an RBI single for Miami's second run in the fifth inning. Yelich also has the distinction of delivering the first hit -- a single to center in the first inning -- at Fort Bragg Field.
"It was awesome," Yelich said. "That was a great experience. It's something I'm going to remember, and a lot of the guys in that locker room are going to remember for the rest of their lives." More >

Two-strike sliders: Coming off Tuesday's career-best nine-strikeout game against the Indians, Wisler displayed an effective slider, striking out four of the first five batters he faced and limiting the Marlins to four hits through the first four innings. But he surrendered a pair of fifth-inning RBI singles, to Realmuto and Yelich, on two-strike sliders. Prado extended this trend in the seventh, when he singled on a 0-2 slider to score Realmuto.
"My slider was pretty good today, for the most part," Wisler said. "I had good command. Just a couple times, I didn't bury it when I needed to. I think I gave up two hard-hit balls out of the 10 [hits allowed]. All the rest found gaps and holes. Other than that, I felt good. My slider feels as good as it has in a long time."

Conley's escape in fourth: The Braves were set up nicely after Freeman doubled to open the fourth inning, but Conley was able to strand him at third base with one out. Actually, Conley made the inning tougher on himself when he opted to throw to first on Nick Markakis' comeback grounder. On the play, Conley had Freeman stuck between second and third, but instead of going for the lead runner, Conley threw out Markakis at first, allowing Freeman to advance to third. With the infield in, Conley got Adonis Garcia to tap to short for the second out, and with runners on the corners, he induced a grounder to short from Jeff Francoeur.
Conley felt privileged to participate in the historic event.
"I know this one for me was different," Conley said. "It's just so eye-opening when I ... go warm up to play a baseball game that that's what I get to do for a living. The folks that are here and involved in the military are making sacrifices far greater than I'm making. So it's very humbling for me and put things in perspective that I've been given some blessings in my life and that they don't get wasted and I don't take them for granted."

Markakis' other missed opportunities: Markakis and Garcia stranded a pair of runners when they recorded consecutive flyouts to center field to end the first inning. After Conley intentionally walked Freeman to load the bases in the fifth, Markakis grounded out to end the inning.
"Just listening to [Yelich and Conley] talk makes me proud. Sometimes we say, 'Hey, the kids today.' I think it shows you, you see two guys who represent us very well. These guys are grateful for what they've been given. They have a very good understanding of what the people in the armed services do for us." -- Mattingly, on the appreciation of his players of the event
"We were treated so well here by everybody. It was an unbelievable experience. This is something I'll never forget the rest of my life. It's just an unbelievable honor and privilege to be a part of this game." -- Braves manager Brian Snitker

Conley was hitless in 26 at-bats this season before he singled to center field in the third inning. Entering the night, he was 4-for-44. He also has never drawn a walk.
Marlins: While they played the Braves at Fort Bragg on Sunday night, the Marlins sent right-hander Tom Koehler to New York early to get ready for Monday's Fourth of July showdown with the Mets at 4:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field. The Mets are starting right-hander Matt Harvey.
Braves: Atlanta will spend Independence Day in Philadelphia, beginning a three-game series against the Phillies on Monday at 4:05 p.m. ET. Joel De La Cruz will attempt to build off the success he had on Wednesday, when he allowed three runs over six innings in his Major League debut.
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