Augusta, GA - Clayton Blackburn survived a 40-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning and actually emerged on the other side of the delay a stronger pitcher, as the Augusta GreenJackets battled back from an early deficit to take a 4-2 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws on Tuesday night, Augusta's second straight victory.
The GreenJackets fell into an early hole as conditions worsened at Lake Olmstead Stadium. Heavy winds started in the bottom of the second and by the top of the third, sheets of rain were falling. The BlueClaws had two men on with two outs in the inning when Brian Pointer tripled into the right field corner to score both men and give the BlueClaws a 2-0 lead - the second straight night where Lakewood grabbed the first lead in the game.
As the ball was heading into the right field corner, rains intensified and as soon as Pointer hit third the umpires called for the tarp. After a delay of 40 minutes, Blackburn returned to get the GreenJackets out of the inning. In the four full innings he completed after the delay, Blackburn (7-3) held the BlueClaws scoreless on just two hits. All told in his seven innings, Blackburn allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out nine - one short of his career best.
The GreenJackets wasted no time tying the game, picking up a pair in the bottom of the third. After Jose Flores singled with two outs, Shawn Payne hit a grounder to short that was booted for the first Lakewood error of the night. Devin Harris followed with an RBI single to put the GreenJackets on the board. Wes Hodges hit a roller to third that went through the legs of Lakewood third baseman Maikel Franco to allow Payne to score the tying run.
Jeff Arnold put the GreenJackets in the lead an inning later with a rocket shot of a solo home run - a liner blistered over the left-field fence - to put the GreenJackets in front 3-2. Kelby Tomlinson added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to push the Augusta lead to 4-2.
Kevin Couture retired three of the four he faced in a scoreless eighth before handing over the ball to Kyle Vazquez for the ninth. After a leadoff walk was wiped out by the second GreenJackets double play of the night, Vazquez got the game's final hitter to pop out to earn his second save in as many nights and seventh of the season.
Hoby Milner (4-3) also came back on the mound after the rain delay for the BlueClaws, but didn't fare as well as Blackburn. In four innings, he allowed three runs - one earned - on five hits. Three of Augusta's four runs in the contest were unearned as a result of three Lakewood errors.
The GreenJackets will look for their third three-game sweep at home against a Northern Division foe this season. Currently, the GreenJackets are 21-13 against the Northern Division. Kyle Crick (5-6, 2.39) takes the ball for the GreenJackets in the series finale against Lakewood's Gabriel Arias (4-6, 3.76). First pitch comes at 7:05 p.m. with radio coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1340 AM and www.greenjacketsbaseball.com. Single-game tickets for any GreenJackets home game are currently available by calling the GreenJackets front office at 706-922-WINS and online at www.greenjacketsbaseball.com.