A hot start to the second half of the South Atlantic League season brought high hopes to the Augusta GreenJackets' coaching staff. But back-to-back losses last week in which the team scored only one run apiece brought back memories of the offensive lethargy that plagued the GreenJackets through the first half.
Before the final game of last week's homestand, which drew the second-largest crowd in Lake Olmstead Stadium history, the San Francisco Giants' director of player development, Fred Stanley, stood in front of the Augusta prospects with some words of wisdom.
"Fred Stanley gave a great talk," GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer said. "I think it really opened some eyes up."
Stanley, who joined the team during the homestand, addressed the players during a 45-minute team meeting just before Friday's game. Offense was the topic after the two losses dropped the GreenJackets to fourth place in the Southern Division standings.
"He talked about the times we've been slacking, about how we weren't hitting," third baseman Charlie Culberson said. "He told us the truth."
The message came through loud and clear, and the response was immediate.
The GreenJackets tagged Lexington for nine runs on 14 hits in a 9-2 victory in front of 5,722 fans. Augusta then went on the road to sweep Bowling Green in a Sunday doubleheader.
The team entered the week a perfect 3-0 since Stanley's speech and with a half-game lead over Bowling Green for first place in the Southern Division.
"It was a good talk. Obviously, it worked," first baseman Josh Mazzola said. "He basically told us we put in a lot of hours, we work hard in batting practice and even before then. Now we need to carry that over into the game, especially in certain situations."
WATERED DOWN : The GreenJackets' bats stayed hot despite storms in Bowling Green on Saturday and Sunday that combined for a total of six hours of rain delays before a pitch was thrown in the four-game series.
The teams waited a little more than two hours on Independence Day before deciding to make up the game Sunday as part of a doubleheader.
That doubleheader, scheduled for a 2 p.m. start, didn't get under way until 6 p.m. because of more rain.
TAKE A CHANCE : GreenJackets pitcher Chance Corgan , out with a finger injury on his throwing hand for more than a month, returned to action last week.
The right-handed starter was sent to the bullpen and made a relief appearance last Tuesday. Corgan allowed one hit in two innings in a 7-2 victory over Lexington.
Corgan could rejoin the starting lineup as soon as this week. Eric Stolp , who moved into the starting rotation to fill Corgan's spot, likely will return to the bullpen if Corgan can make his next scheduled start in Asheville later this week.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.