Greenville, SC - Extra innings have been the trend for the Greenville Drive early in the 2019 season, as Thursday's contest against the Rome Braves marked the third such game thus far. Unfortunately for the Drive, a lead in the top of the 10th was erased quickly in a 4-3 loss to the Braves.
With a runner on second to begin the 10th, the Drive (3-4) didn't waste much time putting runs on the board. Juan Carlos Abreu dropped down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a Rome (2-5) error to put runners on the corners. Grant Williams followed with an RBI single to left to put the Drive ahead, and Cole Brannen followed with a fielder's choice to bring home another run.
Rome countered with three runs against Yorvin Pantoja (0-2) to win the game. The Braves plated a run on a Drive error, and Darling Florentino hit a two-run double to center to give Rome a walkoff win.
Jake Higginbotham (1-0) got the win for Rome in relief.
Both teams received terrific efforts from their starting pitchers. Thaddeus Ward struck out seven for the Drive over five innings of work, and he allowed just three hits and one run without issuing a walk. For the Braves, Jasseel De La Cruz struck out nine Drive hitters over four and one-third scoreless innings.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as Justin Dean led off with an infield single and came all the way in to score on a double by Greg Cullen.
The score remained there until the eighth inning, when the Drive tied the game against Rome reliever Lukas Young, who pitched for the Drive in 2017 and 2018. Brannen reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Kervin Suarez then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring Brannen home.
Williams went 3-3 with an RBI to pace the Drive offense, and Kole Cottam added a pair of hits.
Game two of the four-game series begins on Friday night in Rome at 7:00. The Drive will send right-hander Yasel Santana (0-0, 54.00) to the mound against Braves right-hander Jose Olague (0-1, 9.64).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.