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Whalen and Diaz Knock Off Jackets
04/16/2014 11:54 PM ET
Gavin Cecchini finished 2-for-3 and scored two runs on Wednesday night to help Savannah defeat Augusta 4-1. (Photo by Fred Devyatkin)

Savannah, GA - The Savannah Sand Gnats defeated the Augusta GreenJackets 4-1 Wednesday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium, taking the series three games to one. Robert Whalen earned his second win in his first start of the season- a fantastic five innings of two-hit ball. Whalen was backed up by Gnats righthander Miller Diaz, who allowed just three hits over four scoreless innings.

Savannah (9-4) jumped on Augusta (8-6) early, with a lead-off double by shortstop Gavin Cecchini off of left-handed starter Luis Ysla. Cecchini then scored on a Jared King ground-out to put the Gnats up 1-0. Cecchini is now hitting .375 over his last five games.

One day after baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, Gnats center fielder Patrick Biondi did his best impression of the legend on the base paths. Biondi led off the third inning with a walk and promptly stole second, and then third base. The speedy Woodhaven, Mich., native then scored on a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly. The Gnats then added two more runs to their lead by way of a two-RBI single by designated hitter Stefan Sabol.

Whalen was sharp in his first start of 2014, inducing seven groundouts and punching out six Augusta batters over five innings without issuing a walk. The GreenJackets were able to push just one runner across the plate, when left fielder Shawn Panye scampered home on a throwing error to second base by Gnats catcher Colton Plaia in the fourth inning. Whalen's ERA has now plummeted to just 1.00

Diaz, in relief of Whalen, was no slouch himself, striking out five over four scoreless innings. Diaz earned his first save of the season and is now sporting a 3.38 ERA.

Augusta relievers Carlos Alvarado and Jake Smith combined to throw a nice six and a third innings of two-hit ball, but the damage had already been done.

Gnats pitchers are now 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA against the GreenJackets this season, striking out 60 Augusta batters to just 17 walks. The Gnats finished the road trip 6-1 and now hold sole possession of first place in the division.

The Gnats return home to Savannah Thursday for a three game set against the Greenville Drive, sending RHP Robert Gsellman (1-1, 1.46) to the bump against Teddy Stankiewicz (1-1, 5.00). Fans can enjoy half-priced draft beer and soda for Thirsty Thursday brought to you by Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Connect Savannah, and E-93. First pitch at Historic Grayson Stadium is set for 7:05 p.m and gates open at 6:00 p.m. The radio pregame show on News/Talk 630 and sandgnats.com begins at 6:45 p.m.  

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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