Usually, when your ace falters, you can be in for a long game.
Instead, the GreenJackets responded with resolve, and with poise proved themselves to be the top team in the Southern division. With 7 innings of scoreless relief pitching and clutch hitting, Augusta defeated the Rome Braves 6-4, and won their first round series 2 games to none.
The win moved Augusta to the SAL Championship series, where they will meet the Lakewood Blueclaws. That series will begin on Monday, September 11th.
The game started as bad as possible for Augusta starter Dave McKae. The first play of the game, he received an error for a missed catch and allowed the leadoff batter on. After a line out and a walk, McKae gave up two singles, scoring 2 runs, 1 of which was unearned. McKae then got a strikeout before giving up another single and unearned run.
In the second inning, another error caused problems. This time, Brian Bocock was given a throwing error with one out on a groundball by Rome’s Jaime Trejo. Trejo moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, and then was singled home by Elvis Andrus. McKae got out of the inning, but that would be it as he was lifted after the 2n inning.
Robert Grace came in after that and shut the Braves down. Grace threw 5 innings in relief, giving up just 3 hits and no walks to earn the win. David Quinowski was shaky in the 8th, walking 2 and getting just one out, but Osiris Matos closed out the game for his second save in two playoff games.
Meanwhile, Augusta’s offense played steady and strong to overcome the situation. The heart of the order came through in the 7th to break a 4-4 tie. Eugenio Velez doubled to lead off the inning, and Michael Mooney promptly singled him home to break the tie. Mooney would move to third, and score on Pablo Sandoval’s single.
Earlier in the game, Brian Bocock, a 2006 draftee who moved up from Salem-Keizer shortly before the end of the season, had a 2 RBI double in the 2nd to close the game to 3-2. In the 4th, Anthony Contreras drew a bases loaded walk to score Barry Gunther, and Antoan Richardson singled home Sandoval to tie the game.
Sandoval, who batted .265 with just 1 home run in 2006 after a big 2005 season, was 4 for 5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI on the night.The GreenJackets will begin a 5 game series against the Blueclaws on Monday for the SAL championship. Games 1 and 2 will be played on Monday and Tuesday in Augusta. Game 3 will be played in Lakewood on Thursday, September 14th. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would be played in Lakewood on September 15th and 16th.
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