Buffalo Bisons manager Wally Backman makes it clear when talking about Omar Quintanilla just how highly he thinks of his shortstop.
"Overall, if you had to pick an MVP of the team right now, it'd be Omar," Backman said Wednesday, before the Herd dominated the Gwinnett Braves in a 14-7 rout in front of an announced crowd of 4,449 at Coca-Cola Field.
Quintanilla put on an MVP performance Wednesday, one of several from the middle of the Bisons' lineup.
The biggest hit came from third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo, a rare inside-the-park home run in the first inning that drove in the first three runs of the game.
Tuiasosopo's liner carried Braves right fielder Felix Pie to the edge of the warning track. Pie couldn't decide which way to turn -- and was fighting off the sun and wind -- when the ball bounced off his glove. Official scorer Kevin Lester ruled it a hit, determining that Pie was sufficiently turned around while backtracking.
"He ran hard out of the box, and that's part of it, because Tui's not really the fastest guy out there," Backman said. "He gave me a chance to send him."
"That's probably the first [of my career at any level]. I was surprised when Wally was sending me. I didn't have much left in the tank, so I wasn't sure I was going to make it," Tuiasosopo said.
The next batter, Brad Emaus, could run easier around the bases. His homer over the left-field fence made it 4-0, as the Herd had little trouble solving Braves starter Jair Jurrjens.
The 26-year-old started the season in the majors with Atlanta and has 50 big-league wins, but he's out of sorts right now. Jurrjens couldn't make it out of the fifth inning, giving up 12 hits and 11 runs (10 earned).
"We swung the bats pretty well against him. He left some pitches up in the zone. I know his change-up is his go-to pitch and he left that up quite a few times [Wednesday] night, too," Backman said. "He just didn't have a good feel."
Quintanilla added to Jurrjens' misery in the third inning, lacing a three-run triple down the right-field line. That gave the Bisons an 8-1 lead.
"He continues to get those big hits for us," Backman said.
Quintanilla finished the night 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored. He's also provided much-needed stability for the Herd's infield, starting 35 of the team's 39 games at shortstop.
"He can play multiple positions -- but when you have a guy who's that solid of a shortstop, you don't want to move him out of there," Backman said.
The No. 3-7 hitters for the Herd combined to go 10 for 20 with 10 RBIs and eight runs scored. Tuiasosopo went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and two runs, finishing a triple short of the cycle. Buffalo has never had a player hit for the cycle in a regular-season game in Coca-Cola Field history.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it," Tuiasosopo said. "I wish I would have had a couple better at-bats my last two."
Nonetheless, the run support was much appreciated by starter Garrett Olson. Olson (1-3) had gotten just 17 runs of support in his first seven starts. The Herd scored 11 in his five innings Wednesday.
Before the game, the Bisons activated left-hander Chuck James from the disabled list and sent right-hander Jeff Stevens to Single-A Brooklyn.
The four-game series continues tonight (7:05 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) when Chris Schwinden (2-2, 2.45 ERA) faces the Braves' Julio Teheran (3-1, 2.48).
Bisons 14, Gwinnett 7
The Pitch: Tuiasosopo (inside-the-park), Emaus hit back-to-back homers in first inning for the Herd. Olson gets first win of the year in eighth start. Rottino extends hitting streak to 19 games.
Fast Fact: Matt Tuiasosopo's inside-the-park home run in the first inning was the ninth by the Bisons in the 25-year history of Coca-Cola Field.
Next: Today vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m., Coca-Cola Field.