Ciriaco, Clark give 'Jackets early lead

Homer, strong pitching give Augusta 1-0 edge in Finals

(Damon Tarver/

By Danny Wild / Special to | September 8, 2008 7:11 PM

Juan Ciriaco and the GreenJackets needed just one inning to seal up their Game 1 victory Monday.

Ciriaco's three-run homer in the first inning highlighted a six-run outburst as Augusta earned a 9-3 win over the West Virginia Power in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Shane Jordan and Nick Noonan began the game with consecutive singles and Ciriaco followed with his first homer of the postseason, a line drive to left field off Power starter R.J. Seidel.

Augusta kept the pressure on and reloaded the bases for James Simmons, who lined a two-RBI single. Dom Duggan followed with a run-scoring base hit to cap the frame.

"We're hitting the ball real well, so that helps me out there," Augusta starter Craig Clark said. "I know we're up by a little bit, so as long as I work ahead and let my defense and do their work, the game was in our hands. It makes it easier on me."

Ciriaco, who went 3-for-5, singled and scored as part of a three-run second. Angel Villalona and Simmons also had RBIs to put the 'Jackets ahead by nine. Simmons finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs.

Ciriaco had 26 RBIs in 38 games for the GreenJackets this season, including a two homer, five-RBI peformance Aug. 27.

"He's been hitting real well, every game he's doing a real nice job," Clark said. "It makes it easier on us as a pitching staff -- our offense has been doing well as a whole."

Everyone in the Augusta lineup reached safely with a hit or walk. The GreenJackets outhit the Power, 11-10.

Clark (1-0) struck out eight and held West Virginia to a pair of runs -- one earned -- on six hits over six innings for the win.

"I felt good," he said. "After our offense put a few runs up, it made it easier on me. Just keeping the ball down and everything in the zone, I was using all my pitches and locating."

The Penn State product went 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 23 appearances for Augusta this season. He held the Power to one earned run in 7 2/3 frames the last time he faced them Aug. 12.

"It was an honor to have the opening game," he said. "I would have had the last game in Asheville, so I knew I had this game and I was ready for it. Winning Game 1 is real big."

Augusta, who won the second-half Southern Division title with a 47-22 record, took an early lead in the best-of-5 series. The GreenJackets are looking for their first title since 1999.

"It's a real big win," said Clark. "Up 1-0 now and Madison [Bumgarner] on the mound tomorrow. He's been doing real well all year."

Seidel (0-2) was slammed for nine runs -- seven earned -- on seven hits and three walks in just one inning.

Aside from Seidel, West Virginia got a solid effort from its pitchers. Jose Garcia held Augusta to four hits over four innings before Reed Dickert, Curtis Pasma and Corey Frerichs each tossed a hitless frame of relief.

Curt Rindal hit an RBI single and scored to key the Power's fifth-inning rally. Matt Cline added a run-scoring single in the ninth.

Danny Wild is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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