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Braves, trailing by five runs, score six runs in bottom of the ninth to walk off winners

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The Braves never counted themselves out of Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Marlins, even as they entered the bottom of the ninth trailing by five runs. They rallied for six runs, all with two outs, to steal a 10-9 victory before heading out on a brief road trip to Philadelphia and Boston.

Marlins closer Brad Zigler struck out Dansby Swanson to start the inning, but then walked Ryan Flaherty and gave up a single to Ozzie Albies, putting runners on first and third. Ronald Acuña lifted a sacrifice fly to score a run, making it a 9-5 game. With Freddie Freeman up, Albies took second base on defensive indifference, then Freeman reached on an infield single and a throwing error, scoring Albies. Freeman advanced to second base on defensive indifference, then Nick Markakis singled, closing the gap to 9-7. That marked the end of the line for Ziegler as Marlins manager Don Mattingly brought in Tayron Guerrero.

The bleeding continued with Guerrero in the game as he walked Tyler Flowers. Kurt Suzuki followed up with a single, plating Markakis and moving Suzuki to second base. With Johan Camargo batting, Guerrero uncorked a wild pitch, then ended up walking Camargo on four pitches to load the bases. Swanson, who started the inning by striking out, singled to left field, bringing home Flowers to tie the game and Suzuki to win it.

As the Braves note on Twitter, Sunday’s comeback was their largest ninth-inning comeback in exactly eight years. Brooks Conrad memorably finished a seven-run rally with a walk-off grand slam against the Reds on May 20, 2010.

The Phillies lost on Sunday, so the Braves extend their lead in the NL East to 1.5 games. This is turning out to be a very interesting division to watch. The fourth-place Nationals are only four games out of first place.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.