Rome, GA - A costly throwing error from Augusta GreenJackets reliever Kyle Vazquez allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score in the ninth inning as the Rome Braves - despite being held hitless in the game's final five innings - rallied for a 4-3 win over the GreenJackets on Wednesday night.
All three errors in Wednesday night's contest occurred in the final two innings of the game and two of the three directly led to runs that changed the course of the game. With the game tied at two in the top of the eighth inning, Elliott Blair hit a comebacker to Rome reliever David Patterson that looked like it would end the inning. However, Patterson's throw to first sailed over first baseman William Beckwith's head and Blair raced all the way to third on the miscue. Carlos Willoughby followed with Augusta's first hit since the fifth inning - an RBI single to put the GreenJackets on top 3-2.
Chris Marlowe fired his second consecutive perfect inning of relief to send the game to the ninth with the GreenJackets leading by a run. Augusta loaded the bases with no one out off a reeling Patterson (3-1) on two hits and a walk. Garrett Buechele grounded to Beckwith at first, who fired home to cut down the lead runner. Catcher Cory Brownsten's return throw to first hit Buechele and would've brought home an insurance run, but Buechele was ruled out for obstruction and runners returned to second and third. Jeff Arnold grounded out to end the top of the ninth and the lead remained 3-2 in favor of Augusta.
In the ninth, Vazquez (5-4) walked Will Skinner to lead off the inning. After Skinner took second on a wild pitch, Vazquez walked Chase Anselment. Brownsten attempted a sacrifice bunt that went back to the mound but after Vazquez fielded the ball, his rushed throw to third went wide of the bag to allow both Skinner and Anselment to score to give the Braves an improbable win in a ninth inning where they were held without a hit.
The Braves scored first, getting on the board after the GreenJackets left two men on base in each of the first two innings and would go on to strand a total of 12 in the contest. With the bases full against Augusta starter Kyle Crick, a wild pitch allowed Robby Hefflinger to score and give the Braves a 1-0 lead. The GreenJackets took their own lead in the fourth, loading the bases for Blair with no one out. Blair's fielder's choice groundout brought home the tying run to even things at 1-1. After Blair took second as the back end of an unsuccessful double steal, Willoughby singled him home to give Augusta a 2-1 lead.
Crick would depart shortly after he allowed three hits in the fourth inning, the third of which came from Elmer Reyes to tie things at two. In 3.2 innings, a shaky Crick allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five. He also threw two wild pitches in his outing.
Rome starter David Starn wouldn't last through the fifth, leaving after allowing back-to-back hits to open the inning. After reliever Wilson Rivera walked Devin Harris to load the bases, he got a fly out and back-to-back strikeouts to preserve the tie. The GreenJackets wouldn't get another hit until the eighth inning while the Augusta bullpen held Rome hitless over 4.1 scoreless innings.
The GreenJackets will send Adalberto Mejia (9-7, 4.15) to the mound in the final road game of the year on Thursday as they look to take two of three from the Braves. Rome will counter with righty AJ Holland (4-8, 4.00) in their home finale. 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.