Jackets' pitchers key to 20-4 start

Thanks in large part to the best pitching staff in the minor leagues, the Augusta GreenJackets needed just 24 games to get to 20 wins on the season.


Augusta (20-4 through Sunday) became the first team in minor league baseball to reach the 20-win mark, doing it 10 games quicker than last year's squad, which eventually posted a franchise-record 92 victories.

The GreenJackets have the best record in the South Atlantic League and were four games ahead of Asheville (16-8) in the Southern Division.

Augusta's pitching staff leads the league in ERA (1.66), hits allowed (158), shutouts (9), saves (12), homers allowed (3) and walks allowed (41).

"I can't explain it, and I'm not going to try to figure it out," manager Roberto Kelly said. "We're just going to enjoy it and ride it as long as we can - just taking a ride."

HOT ARMS: RHP Adam Cowart (5-0, 0.60), who's scheduled to start today at Kannapolis, leads the SAL in wins and hasn't allowed a run in 21 innings. He's 15-1 with a 0.95 ERA in 20 starts as a pro.

- RHP Dan Griffin (3-1, 3.13) hasn't allowed a run in eight innings.

- RHP Paul Lussier (1-0, 0.73) has allowed one earned run in 12Q innings.

- RHP Kevin Pucetas (2-0, 0.47) entered Monday having allowed just one run and a walk with 15 strikeouts in 19 innings.

- RHP Ryan Shaver (0-0, 0.00) has yet to allow a run in eight innings.

- LHP Ben Snyder (3-0, 0.39) struck out a career-high 10 of 14 batters in relief Saturday. He's allowed one run in 23 innings and none since April 7.

- RHP Henry Sosa (1-0, 0.42), with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph, hasn't allowed an earned run in 20w innings.

- LHP Clayton Tanner (4-0, 1.35) hasn't allowed a run in the past 14Q innings.

OFFENSE AWAKENS: Augusta's bats haven't been too shabby either. The GreenJackets rank third in the SAL with a .272 team batting average. They average 5.5 runs per game and have outscored their opponents 132-47 with the fewest strikeouts (142).

"It's nice to see the other facets coming through," Kelly said. "We have to make sure we stay aggressive."

Crowded: Augusta ranks 10th in the SAL in home attendance, averaging 2,624 per game.

DYCHE OUT: OF Joey Dyche, who hit .288 in 19 games with Class A Augusta before being called up to Class A advanced San Jose two weeks ago, suffered a season-ending injury last week.

Dyche ruptured his spleen diving head first for a ball.

POWER OUTAGE: The West Virginia Power had their club-record 14-game win streak snapped Saturday. The streak was two longer than Augusta's season-opening stretch.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.



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