Isaiah Drake of the Augusta GreenJackets belts a homer against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at SRP Park on June 8, 2024. Mike Adams/Augusta Good News.
Isaiah Drake of the Augusta GreenJackets belts a homer against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at SRP Park on June 8, 2024. Mike Adams/Augusta Good News.

Back and forth ballgame ends with GreenJackets walk-off

(Story courtesy Noah Adcock-Howeth, Augusta GreenJackets)

NORTH AUGUSTA – The GreenJackets watched a game-tying run score on an error in the top of the ninth to minimize five unanswered runs, but dug back in for the bottom half and won the series opener over Fayetteville 6-5 off a base hit from Isaiah Drake.

The game was far from flawless on either side, as Augusta’s defense committed five errors including two in the ninth inning, while Fayetteville’s pitching staff walked 12 batters including all three baserunners in the bottom of the ninth.

Fayetteville broke out to an early lead, putting up a trio of runs in the third off of starter Garrett Baumann, who uncharacteristically walked three batters in the inning and saw all three come across home on a walk and a two-run single from Alejandro Nunez. The Woodpeckers would push across another run in the fifth as an E3 scored Cesar Hernandez, chasing Baumann from the game before he reached the fifth.

Once Baumann left the ballgame, the GreenJackets turned to Adel Dilone, returning to the bullpen after a pair of spot starts. Dilone was phenomenal when he was most needed, working a career-high 4.1 innings and refusing to allow an earned run, grabbing his fifth win and tying himself with Baumann for the most on the team.

The offense worked themselves all the way back in one inning, posting four runs in the 5th against reliever Raimy Rodriguez, who struggled to find the zone and watched runs score on a Luis Sanchez double, Kade Kern sacrifice fly, and bases loaded walk from Robert Gonzalez. Rodriguez had worked multiple innings in every outing this season, but did not get through the fifth as he surrendered to Abel Mercedes, who struck out Leiker Figueroa with the bases loaded to keep the game tied.

Augusta took the lead in the bottom of the seventh on a fielder’s choice from Figueroa, but the joy was short-lived. Trailing by one entering the ninth, Fayetteville used Augusta’s flawed defense to its advantage immediately. Will Bush reached as the leadoff man as Dilone botched a soft toss to first base, and a Kenni Gomez single put men at first and second with one out. Dilone induced Chase Jaworsky to hit into what appeared to be a tailor-made double play, but Figueroa fired the return throw into the dugout to bring the tying run home.

The GreenJackets entered the ninth needing just one run for their fourth walk-off of the year, and the barrage of walks continued as Ben Petschke issued free passes to Cam Magee and Jacob Godman to start the ninth. After a lineout and double steal put men at second and third, Petschke intentionally walked Gonzalez to load the bags and create a force. Figueroa would pop out on the first pitch of the at bat, setting the stage for Isaiah Drake. Drake entered on an 0-4 day with three strikeouts, but erased everything else from the day with a line drive over the third base bag for a base hit that scored Magee and handed Augusta a series-opening victory 6-5.

On Wednesday, the GreenJackets send Didier Fuentes, arguably their most reliable starter, to the bump to continue his run of dominance over the last six weeks. Fayetteville will match up with southpaw Colby Langford, who continues his transformation from reliever to starter. The game offers a chance for Augusta to snap a cold streak against lefties, having lost the last eight games where the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher. First pitch is at 7:05 PM, and gates at SRP Park will open at 6 p.m.

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