Wednesday, August 28 - Augusta 13, Lexington 4
A rollercoaster ride of a regular season culminated in a hug from Tyler Mizenko to Brad Moss and a celebration in the clubhouse for the Augusta GreenJackets.
The GreenJackets crushed the Lexington Legends for their seventh consecutive win and 25th in their past 30 games, clinching the South Atlantic League Southern Division second-half title.
The GreenJackets finished five games out of first in the first half and were six back earlier in the second half after a 16-18 start after the All-Star break.
Since July 30, the GreenJackets are 25-5. It began with a six-game sweep of the Charleston RiverDogs in early August and included winning streaks of 11 and seven games. They are currently on the seven-game streak.
As a result, the GreenJackets quickly took over the division and dominated second-place Lexington, now leading the Legends by 6.5 games. After trailing Savannah by five games in the first half, they now lead the Sand Gnats by six games in the overall standings.
Augusta received six good innings from Kendry Flores, allowing three runs on four hits with three strikeouts. He kept the ball in the zone and avoided hard contact for the most part, inducing seven swinging strikes. He was neutral between ground balls and fly balls. A big one came in the first inning off the bat of Bubba Starling, traveling more than 400 feet for a two-run homer.
The GreenJackets pounded one of the best pitchers in the league in Lexington's Christian Binford. The right-hander allowed six earned and seven total runs in three innings. Aroni Nina followed with six runs allowed, although only two were earned. The Legends fell apart with four errors.
Augusta's Shawn Payne and Mitch Delfino both homered in the first inning to answer Starling's. Delfino had three hits and the one RBI, and Payne had two RBI.
Ben Turner went 3 for 4 with three RBI to lead the GreenJackets. Andrew Cain added two RBI on a single.
Stephen Johnson, Ian Gardeck and Mizenko combined to shut the door on Lexington and seal the clinching win.
Notable Augusta lines:
Kendry Flores: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 7 swinging strikes, 9 ground balls, 8 fly balls, 2 line drives, 83 pitches
Mitch Delfino: 3-5, HR, RBI
Ben Turner: 3-4, 3 RBI
Shawn Payne: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
Andrew Cain: 1-2, 2 RBI
Notable Lexington lines:
Christian Binford: 3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Bubba Starling: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
Ramon Torres: 2-4, RBI
Mark Threlkeld: 2-5
"It's an amazing feeling. We’re not done, though. We still have the playoffs. It’s a great feeling right now, especially to do it with these guys. They’re a great group of guys.
"The way we’ve come together as a team in the second half, I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It's been unbelievable. When the hitters aren’t hitting, the pitchers are picking us up. When the pitchers don’t have their stuff that day, the hitters are picking them up. It’s been a really good group effort, this second half especially."
"It’s an honor for me. I wasn’t nervous because I was focusing on hitting the strike zone, keeping the ball low. There was no pressure. I just enjoyed the game like every time."
"(Charleston) was a series where we had a lot to prove. To take six in a row from them, that would have made those guys’ season right there. But the fact that they kept rolling, what they did on the road, it was huge. The back-end of the bullpen, every one of them, they were huge down the stretch. These position players, they’re a bunch of grinders. To go out there every single day and do this, in this heat, dealing with rainouts and doubleheaders and hotels we stay in, I think they’re figuring out how to make it in this business. There’s a certain way you play the game.
"(Flores) wasn’t as sharp as he was at their place, but he’s going to give you six innings, he’s going to battle his butt off. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he got the job done for us."