Dominant pitching, a strong arm in center field and clutch hitting were enough to cover up some sloppy defense in the Augusta GreenJackets’ 2-1 walk-off win over the Greensboro Grasshoppers Thursday night to open a key series at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Jose Flores’ chopping grounder with runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game was enough to score Myles Schroder from third base and hand Augusta (33-37, 65-64) its 10th win in 12 games.
Greensboro (30-29, 76-53) was given the lead in the first inning after errors from Kelby Tomlinson and Flores allowed the Grasshoppers’ lone run.
Augusta starter Adalberto Mejia didn’t panic and shut out Greensboro over the next five innings. The former South Atlantic League pitcher of the week scattered five hits, walked one and struck out four.
“We’ve had our limitations because of the doubleheaders recently, but pitching is the heart and soul of this team,” Augusta manager Lipso Nava said. “That’s what we saw again.”
Reliever Tyler Hess allowed just one hit over two scoreless innings to set up Andrew Berger (1-3), who got the win after stranding two runners on base in the top of the ninth.
GreenJackets center fielder Jesus Galindo saved the game with a pair of defensive highlights. After the first batter of the game reached on a single, Galindo caught a fly ball on the next at-bat and threw behind the runner at first for a rally-killing double play.
Galindo also showed off his arm in the top of the ninth when he kept the score tied with a strike to the plate that retired Austin Nola trying to score from second for what would have been the go-ahead run.
“That’s really what won the game for us right there,” Arnold said. “Not necessarily the outs, but the momentum it gave us.”
Arnold fed off the momentum and led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. Schroder came in as a pinch runner and went to third on Carlos Willoughby’s sacrifice bunt.
After an intentional walk to Galindo, Flores drove a chopper into the ground in front of Nola at short, and Schroder beat the throw home.
Greensboro reliever Johnny Omahen (1-5) gave up the two hits in the ninth for his first loss since June.
The GreenJackets, still clinging to life in the South Atlantic League Southern Division’s pennant race, gained a half game on first-place Rome and now sit 5½ games back with 10 to play.