Little Rock, Ark. (Arkansas Travelers) - The San Antonio Missions avoided being swept by riding a dominant performance from Matt Branham to an 8-0 victory over the Arkansas Travelers on Monday afternoon. In a fill-in start, Branham retired the first 15 Travelers batters and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Eventually two relievers helped Branham combine for a four-hitter, which helped the Missions salvage one game after dropping the two in a row at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Working mainly in relief, Branham had made just one start this season but coasted through seven innings on just 77 pitches. The only base hit he allowed was a double by second baseman Alex Yarbrough with one out in the seventh inning. Yarbrough is the Texas League leader with 16 doubles and 60 base hits.
Early on Branham needed help to keep the Travs off base with two hit-robbing plays. Drew Heid hit a hard liner that Jason Hagerty caught leaping behind first base. Yarbrough was robbed when Casey McElroy made a diving stop behind second base.
Erik Komatsu was the only Traveler to reach base twice on Monday. He led off the sixth inning with a walk, the first blemish of the day for Branham. Komatsu also hit a triple in the eighth inning off Luis De La Cruz.
Hagerty put the Missions up with a home run (5) to lead off the second inning. A pair of RBI doubles in the third inning by Yeison Asencio and Rymer Liriano pushed the lead to 3-0.
Despite allowing three runs in the first three innings, Kyle McGowin retired seven of the last eight hitters he faced into the sixth inning. He came out for the sixth, but left the mound before throwing any pitches and was replaced by Kramer Sneed.
McGowin took the loss in his Double-A debut with three runs allowed on six hits and three strikeouts in five innings.
The Missions jumped on Sneed in the seventh inning for five runs. Robert Kral worked a ten-pitch walk to get the inning going. Adam Buschini singled beginning a string of four singles that knocked Sneed from the game. Kevin Johnson inherited three runners and hit the first batter he faced to bring in a run. Hagerty recorded his second RBI with a fielder's choice, and Kral took his second walk of the inning to force in the final run of the game.
De La Cruz pitched the eighth inning leaving Komatsu at third base. Although Adam Melker and Heid connected on back-to-back singles to open the ninth inning, San Antonio closer Johnny Barbato retired the next three to secure the shutout.
The loss sent the Travs a game below .500 at 24-25, which places them 2.5 games behind Tulsa for the North Division lead.
Time of game was 2:48 and the paid attendance was 3,122.
The Travs now embark on a six-day road trip to South Texas, which opens Tuesday night at Corpus Christi at 7:05 p.m. Drew Rucinski (3-2, 2.89) is set to start game one for the Travs, while the Hooks counter with Thomas Shirley (5-2, 1.51).