Augusta, GA - The Greensboro Grasshoppers avoided being swept at Lake Olmstead Stadium for the second time this year as they defeated the Augusta GreenJackets on Sunday evening by a 2-1 score in the finale of a four-game series between the teams.
The GreenJackets got on the board early, with an RBI single from Jeff Arnold in the second inning pushing Augusta out to a 1-0 lead. Clayton Blackburn retired the first nine hitters of the game before Greensboro could touch him. The league-leader in strikeouts allowed three hits and hit a batter - all within a four-hitter stretch - in the third inning and that ended up providing all the offense the Grasshoppers would need.
With the bases loaded on two of those three hits, Josh Adams singled in a pair of runs for Greensboro to give the Grasshoppers the 2-1 edge. Blackburn settled down after that, retiring the next eight hitters he faced and 15 of the final 17 to come to the plate against him, but his offense couldn't back Augusta's ace right-hander. In eight innings, Blackburn (8-4) allowed only the two runs in the third on five hits while striking out six. Sunday was the eighth time in Blackburn's 22 starts where he did not walk a single hitter.
Jose Urena (9-5) wasn't as dominant as Blackburn but he did plenty to get the job done for the Grasshoppers. In six innings of one-run ball, Urena allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three.
The GreenJackets' best chance to rally came in the seventh inning, when they loaded the bases with three consecutive singles with one out. Jose Flores bounced into an inning-ending, rally-killing double play and the GreenJackets wouldn't get another man on base the rest of the day.
Nick Wittgren struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning to earn his second save of the year for the Grasshoppers.
Despite the loss, the GreenJackets have still won 16 of their last 21 games as they head into Rome for a three-game series with their slim playoff chances hanging by a thread. After an off day on Monday, the GreenJackets send Paul Davis (5-7, 3.81) to the mound to open a three-game series with the Braves on Tuesday. Lefty Fabian Williamson will get the start for Rome in the opener. First pitch from Rome comes at 7:05 p.m. with radio coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1340 AM and www.greenjacketsbaseball.com.
The GreenJackets return home on Friday to open their final series of the year - a four-game set with the Charleston RiverDogs. 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.