ASHEVILLE, NC - Rome lost three separate leads and ultimately lost a game it should have won on Thursday evening against the Asheville Tourists, dropping the series opener 4-3 on a walk-off single by Kyle Datres with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th inning.
The Braves mashed for 13 hits against the Tourists, including four for extra bases, but came up short too frequently with runners in scoring position in the early innings when they could have made the score more lopsided. Asked to hold narrow leads throughout the night, Rome starter LHP Dilmer Mejia was unable to keep Asheville at bay.
Rome got things going with a run in the 3rd inning. With the bases loaded and one out Braden Shewmake lifted a fly ball to deep left, bringing in Jeremy Fernandez on a sacrifice fly and giving Rome a 1-0 lead.
After Asheville tied it up 1-1 the Braves took the lead once more in the 6th on a towering solo homer out to right field by Greg Cullen. The homerun was Cullen's sixth of the season and gave Rome a 2-1 edge. Asheville immediately tied it up 2-2 with a run in the Bottom of the 6th inning. Rome got its final lead of the day on an RBI groundout by Shewmake in the 7th which scored Fernandez.
The Tourists tied the game 3-3 on a solo homer by Daniel Montano in the 7th and won it on the Datres single in the 9th against Rome reliever and All Star Jose Montilla.
Rome finished the game 1-12 with runners in scoring position.
Cullen was 2-4 with a homer and a double, lifting his July batting average to .333 and his OBP to .475. Jose Bermudez went 2-4, giving him multiple hits in five consecutive games. Fernandez was 3-4 with a double and two runs scored and Drew Campbell was 3-5 with a double.
Mejia went 7 innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked one while receiving a no-decision.
Rome and Asheville continue their four game series Friday night at McCormick Field. First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Rome will start RHP Alan Rangel (8-5, 4.91) while Asheville puts RHP Ryan Feltner (6-6, 5.46) on the mound.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.