ROME- The Asheville Tourists took game one from the Rome Braves in front of a sold-out Independence Day crowd at State Mutual Stadium Thursday night. Asheville had to overcome a one-run deficit late and the way they did it was in the sneakiest of ways. The Tourists then held on at the end for a 4-3 win.
Asheville's starting pitcher, Nick Bush , was fantastic. Bush allowed only one hit over his first five innings of work and retired 13 Braves hitters in a row at one point. None of those 13 batters even hit the ball out of the infield.
Rome's pitching was pretty good as well early on. However, in the top of the fifth Coco Montes gave the Tourists a 1-0 lead with an RBI double to right-centerfield. Montes raced home soon after on a wild pitch to make the score 2-0.
The Braves rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth with help from a trio of softly hit singles. Derrik Watson came in and stemmed the tide with a strikeout to end the threat. Rome took the lead 3-2 in the following frame but Asheville had a plan once they fell behind.
In the top of the eighth LeeMarcus Boyd worked a lead-off walk. Terrin Vavra dropped a bunt down the third base line and the throw to first bounced away allowing Vavra to reach. Boyd hustled to third on the overthrow and the Braves fired the ball back across the diamond in hopes to catch Boyd. Instead it was Boyd who caught the Braves.
LeeMarcus realized that no one was covering home plate so as soon as the Rome players turned their backs to him, he bolted from third towards the dish. The game was tied before the Braves even knew what hit them.
Willie MacIver then delivered the eventual winning run with a two-out RBI single into left that plated Vavra. Alexander Martinez worked a perfect eighth inning for his first hold of the year and PJ Poulin tossed the ninth to earn his first save of the season. Poulin punctuated the save with a strikeout to end the game.
Asheville finished the game with only two hits but they both came at crucial points. The Tourists and Braves will face off for game two on Friday night at 7:00pm from State Mutual Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.