ROME, Ga. - Jean Luc Blaquiere struck out to end the game in the ninth with the tying run on second base as the Rome Braves defeated Savannah, 2-1, in front of 2,176 at State Mutual Stadium. Phillips Orta (1-1) is saddled with the loss as he allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth after seven innings of one-run baseball from starting pitcher Chris Schwinden.
With two away in the final frame, Eric Campbell hit a screaming single past the diving Ryan Barba off reliever Yeliar Castro. With Raul Reyes at the plate, Castro threw a pitch straight to the backstop that allowed Campbell to move to second. After a walk to Reyes, Matthew Small was called in to face Blaquiere with the tying and go-ahead runs on the bases. Small notched his first save by striking out Blaquiere on a two-two count.
The deciding run in the pitcher's duel came across in the eighth after Orta allowed a leadoff double to Adam Milligan, who was 3-for-3 and a triple shy of the cycle. Luis Sumoza was inserted as a pinch runner for Milligan at second with no outs. Calvin Culver walked and Braeden Schlehuber was hit by an Orta pitch to load the bases.
Adam Coe delivered a dying single toward the right field line that scored Sumoza and plated Rome's eventual winning run. Orta then battled back to get the next three outs and strand the bases loaded to give the Gnats their shot in the ninth.
Schwinden was effective once again for the Gnats, turning in a seven-inning effort with four strikeouts and no walks. The Visalia, Calif. native has walked just two batters in his last six starts spanning 41.0 innings pitched. In that same time frame, he has struck out 33 opposing hitters.
Campbell led the offense with two hits as the first four hitters in the Sand Gnats lineup went a combined 0-for-15. Joey August in his first game back since colliding with Campbell at Grayson drove in Savannah's only run in the sixth.
Edgar Alfonzo sends All-Star southpaw Robert Carson (8-7, 2.84) to the hill as he looks for his ninth win of the year. Rome will counter with RHP Randall Delgado (3-8, 4.74) in the fourth game of the series scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.