Augusta GreenJackets 2023 file photo by Mike Adams/Augusta Good News
Augusta GreenJackets 2023 file photo by Mike Adams/Augusta Good News

GreenJackets score five runs late May 16 for first win of week

(Story courtesy Augusta GreenJackets)

NORTH AUGUSTA – The Augusta GreenJackets went from down and out to back in business over the span of three late innings, overcoming a three-run deficit in the late innings to snare a 5-4 win Thursday from the Salem Red Sox.

Red Sox starter Trennor O’Donnell, in his first professional start, retired all 15 batters he faced, using a sharp slider and filthy splitter to keep Augusta at bay. He was succeeded by Noah Dean, a southpaw usually used as a starter who struck out the side in the 6thand seemed well on his way to handling the GreenJackets.

Augusta got a valiant effort from their own starter in Luis Vargas, who was called upon for his first start of 2024 after Mitch Farris was scratched late in the afternoon. Vargas worked through five scoreless innings as well to match O’Donnell before Miguel Bleis led off the top of the sixth with a solo home run. Two more runs would come across in the inning off the bat of Fraymi De Leon, one charged to Vargas and one to reliever Adel Dilone who came on to get all three outs in the sixth.

Staring down a multi-run deficit in the seventh, Augusta finally began to flip the script. Jace Grady walked with one out to be the first base runner of the evening, then Drew Compton ripped a single to left field to put any notions of a no-hitter to bed. After Dean punched out Will Verdung, Robert Gonzalez stepped up in a massive situation. Gonzalez bounced a roller towards first base, but Dean was late to get off the mound, and Gonzalez beat the pitcher to the bag to reach safely. Compton never stopped running, and scored right behind to put Augusta on the board. The next batter was Joe Olsavsky, who added to his day of stellar defense with a game-tying double into left.

Dilone used the momentum of the offense to retire the side in the 8th, and Augusta went back to work against new reliever Francis Hernandez, who had gone 12 innings without allowing an earned run. Jose Marcano immediately put Hernandez on the defensive with a leadoff walk, and Luis Sanchez punched one into shallow right to put the winning run in scoring position. After both men moved up 90 feet on a passed ball, Jace Grady cracked a liner into center field to score Marcano and put the GreenJackets in front for the first time this week. Sanchez would eventually score on a dropped third strike and wild pitch, setting the stage for Dilone to close out a 5-3 game.

The Red Sox refused to go quietly into the night, as Natanael Yuten led off the 9th inning with a solo homer that just floated over the yellow stripe atop the 25 foot high fence beneath the TaxSlayer Terrace, bringing us back to a one-run game. Dilone bore down under pressure, inducing a pop up, strike out, and fly ball to center field that Gonzalez ran down for the final out and the first win of the week for the GreenJackets.

Augusta is now 16-19 on the year, including 7-10 at SRP Park. The three run deficit is the second-largest comeback of the year, and could build offensive momentum entering a tough matchup tomorrow. Georgia native Blake Wehunt takes the ball for the Red Sox tomorrow, sporting a 1.37 ERA with 30 strikeouts in less than 20 innings. Davis Polo is the scheduled starter for Augusta, coming off the best outing of his career in which he worked six scoreless innings of relief in his first trip out of the bullpen in 2024 against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

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