Legends On Deck

SAL Game of the Week: Rome Looking to Play Spoiler

It was coming down to crunch time for the Greenville Drive on Friday night as they visited Rome, Georgia to take on the Braves in the Legends on Deck South Atlantic League game of the week. We were live at State Mutual Stadium to catch all of the Southern Division action. A good crowd of Braves fans filed into the park on a slightly cloudy and breezy night of baseball, just one night after their home team was mathematically eliminated from first half contention themselves. The Braves looked to play a little bit of spoiler as they opened their three game series against the Drive, one of two teams still in contention for the first half Southern Division crown. Greenville trailed the first place Columbia Fireflies by just half of a game entering play on Friday night.

The Braves would trot out one of their top starters this season in Bryse Wilson to go against the visiting team’s hurler, Daniel Gonzalez. The Braves jumped on Gonzalez early in their half of the opening frame after Kurt Hoekstra drove in the first run of the night with an RBI single. Brett Cumberland would follow with a sacrifice fly and the Braves took a 2-0 lead into the second.

Wilson had a solid first inning in his own right, but struggled to find the plate after that. Just 29 of his 55 pitches found the strike zone over his three innings of work, which really caught up to him in his third and final frame. After walking three straight to load the bases with no outs, Wilson got Santiago Espinal to pop out before Tyler Hill got a run home on a ground out. It looked like Wilson was going to get out of the potentially catastrophic inning with minimal damage, at least until Greenville’s cleanup hitter Ryan Scott stepped in the box. Scott launched a three run homer deep over the right field fence to clear the bases and give the visitors a 4-2 lead. The walks combined with the long ball ultimately sealed Wilson’s fate for the night. Wilson’s final line was 3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO.

A rehabbing Daniel Winkler entered the game in the top of the fourth where he would allow a run of his own. However, the Drive really broke things open in the top of the sixth with their second four run inning of the night. The high scoring sixth was highlighted by a Roldani Baldwin two RBI single. The Braves would answer back in their half of the sixth with a pair of runs of their own after finally getting to Gonzalez for the first time since the two run first.

However, the home team’s offensive effort would not be enough. When the Drive came back to the plate in the top of the seventh, it was deja vu. After walking two, Braves pitcher Bladimir Matos gave up a three run homer to Chris Madera, his fifth of the season, and just like that, the Drive had 12 runs on just 10 hits.

Highly regarded prospect A.J. Minter came in for a rehab inning of his own, making him the fifth Rome pitcher on the night. Minter gave up a lone hit and had one strikeout in the Braves quickest defensive inning of the night. Catcher Carlos Martinez came in to pitch the ninth where he gave up a homer on his first pitch, hit a batter on his second pitch, and had an error on a double play ball on his third pitch.

In the end, it was the pitching that proved to be the Braves downfall. The staff as a whole gave up a combined 14 runs on 13 hits while walking a whopping 11 batters and allowing three homers in the team’s 14-5 loss. 

WP: Daniel Gonzalez (6-0) LP: Bryse Wilson (4-3)

Top Performers

Greenville Drive:

Chris Madera – 1/4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

Ryan Scott – 1/3, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Rome Braves:

Kurt Hoekstra – 4/4, 2 RBI

Both Greenville and Columbia got wins on Friday night putting both teams at 40 total W’s so far in the first half. With just two games left before the break, the Southern Division race is coming down to the wire. The Braves and Drive play game two of their series Saturday evening. First pitch is set for 6:00pm.



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