ROME, GA - Rome returned to the .500 mark with a 9-5 win against the Columbia Fireflies on Saturday evening, giving the Braves a new season-best winning streak. It was another banner evening for the lineup as outfielders Justin Dean and Trey Harris led the way.
Playing before 4,912 fans on Star Wars night, the Rome bats continued their assault on South Atlantic League pitchers with another huge effort. Dean finished a single shy of the cycle and Harris ripped the go-ahead homer to right-center to provide the game-winning RBI.
Once again the Braves started quickly as Dean hit a leadoff triple in the 1st inning off Columbia starter RHP Jose Butto. He scored on a Ricardo Rodriguez sacrifice fly. The Fireflies tied it up 1-1 with an unearned run in the 2nd inning off Rome starter RHP Alan Rangel.
The Braves put together a big rally to regain the lead in the Bottom of the 2nd as Dean hit a 420 foot homer off the Jumbotron in left-center to make it 4-1. Rodriguez followed with a single and later scored on a Greg Cullen RBI triple. Rome was up 5-1 and appeared to have the game in control until Columbia flexed their power in the 5th.
Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos each hit a two run homer off Rangel, both coming with two outs, and tied the game 5-5. Despite losing the lead twice Saturday night the Braves never trailed. The answer came from Harris on the opposite field solo homerun to put the Braves back in front 6-5. It proved to be the winning run.
In the 6th inning the Braves would add further cushion. Griffin Benson opened the inning with a double and scored on a sac fly from Jose Bermudez. Dean would follow with an RBI double and then Rodriguez an RBI single, making it 9-5.
Holding the lead was reliever RHP Victor Vodnik who earned his first save of the season for firing 4 shutout innings from the bullpen. Vodnik allowed three hits and struck out two with one walk. Rangel got the win for 5 innings of work. He allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Rome's five game winning streak is a new season-high. Rome is at .500 for the first time since April 5th.
The Braves offense has at least 11 hits in all five games during the winning streak.
Dean was 3-4 with a homer, triple and a double. He was on deck when the final out was made in the Bottom of the 8th inning, leaving him without another chance at the cycle. Dean drove in four runs and scored three. Harris was 3-4 with a homer and is leading the league in batting with a .395 average. He also leads the league in OBP, hits, RBI, and total bases.
Rome and Columbia continue their four game series on Sunday afternoon at State Mutual Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 2 pm. Rome will start LHP Gabriel Noguera (1-1, 4.26) while Columbia puts RHP Willy Taveras (2-5, 4.02) on the mound.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.