Born in Ohio and raised in the South, I'm a diehard Cleveland sports fan. I pass on NASCAR, play any sport but soccer and can't understand why the NFL is so undervalued in the Southeast. My favorite sport is basketball. I was a sports writer at the Columbia County News-Times from 2005 to 2007 before becoming Minor League Sports Writer at the Augusta Chronicle in December 2007.
Posted June 30, 2012 12:45 am

GreenJackets Gameday: Fireworks and Fahrenheit

Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets)

WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Sunny and 102 degrees at game time with no chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Sparkling Saturdays. Enjoy a postgame fireworks show.
TICKETS: Start at $9. Call the box office at (706) 922-WINS or visit
IN-GAME UPDATES: On Twitter (@BillyByler) or receive text alerts on your phone.
STANDINGS: Augusta 6-3, 38-40 (2nd SAL Southern); Savannah 2-7, 43-33 (7th SAL Southern)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Savannah leads the season series 11-10 and the current series 1-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets LHP Adalberto Mejia (5-4, 4.95) vs. Sand Gnats LHP Alex Panteliodis (3-4, 4.04).


Friday night's game was the hottest I've ever experienced at Lake Olmstead Stadium, and the forecasts are saying it'll be even hotter today. Yippee.


GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava told me he did think the heat was a factor for both teams. The pitching was sluggish at times on both sides, but it hurt the home team more than Savannah.


I'll be interested to see how many people actually brave the heat tonight. Postgame fireworks are consistently the biggest draw at Lake Olmstead Stadium this season, but are fireworks worth enduring the fahrenheit?


It may not be easy to sit through nine innings of heat, but try playing (or pitching) in it. Heat can often make athletes become sluggish and lose focus, which could be part of the reason for all the walks we've seen lately. Poor Chris Marlowe was left hanging Thursday when he walked five consecutive batters. Kyle Crick gave free passes to three batters in a row Friday. Of course, this wasn't the first time for either. Marlowe leads the team in walks (41). Crick ranks second (38).


But the most impressive pitching came out of the bullpen Friday, where DeMondre Arnold looked stellar before running out of gas in his fourth inning of work. Andrew Berger struggled early but struck out 7 of 9 (yes, 7 of 9!) batters he faced. 


Perhaps that's why the GreenJackets' pitchers lead the league in strikeouts, and it's not even close. Augusta's arms have struckout 682 batters this season. Greenville ranks a distant second with 645 and that's with the Drive throwing 20 more innings! The GreenJackets still have the only pitching staff in the league to average more than one strikeout per inning pitched.


Tonight's starter, Adalberto Mejia, has struck out 12 batters in his last 10 innings, including a win in Savannah last week. He threw six no-hit innings and this should be an interesting rematch. Will Mejia again dominate the Sand Gnats batters or will the offense make adjustments this time against the 19-year-old Dominican?


Florida product Alex Panteliodis has already made a start at Lake Olmstead Stadium this season, picking up a win with a five-inning, two-hit shutout on April 13. On a day with triple-digit temperatures, a pitchers' duel is completely fine with me.