Two busses rolled into town well after midnight early Sunday morning. In one, the Augusta GreenJackets returned home from Hagerstown, Md., where they completed an eight-game road trip. The other bus carried the Savannah Sand Gnats, who had just wrapped up a night game at home.
The two exhausted teams didn't get much rest, but they figured to sleep well Sunday night after their afternoon game went 18 innings before the GreenJackets won 1-0.
"It seemed like it was never going to end," said GreenJackets reliever Devan Kline, who pitched scoreless 16th and 17th innings. "You're just sitting in the bullpen and asking who's next, because it seemed like everyone was going to get to go in."
The four-hour, 35-minute game featured 11 pitchers. The 17 scoreless innings were more a result of missed offensive opportunities than dominant pitching. The two teams combined to leave 32 runners on base.
"There were plenty of chances for both teams to win," GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer said. "But we got in at 3 in the morning, and for us to come out and go 18 innings is a testament to the team and their work."
GreenJackets right fielder Ryan Lollis, who failed to tag up from second in the 16th on a deep fly ball to center field, redeemed himself by scoring the game's only run. Evan Crawford marked the 70th batter to step to the plate for Augusta, and he singled to right field in the bottom of the 18th with Lollis on first. Savannah right fielder Cesar Puello let Crawford's single slip under his glove, and the error allowed Lollis to score on a close play at the plate to end the longest GreenJackets' game in recent memory.
The game started out as a pitchers' duel with GreenJackets starter B.J. Salsbury using his typical fast pace to shut out Savannah over eight innings. He scattered seven hits and struck out four.
But Savannah starter Armando Rodriguez was just as impressive, with only three hits allowed over seven shutout innings.
The GreenJackets best chance to score in regulation was killed when Luke Anders was thrown out for an inning-ending double play in the eighth while trying to tag up at first base.
Anders' leadoff single in the bottom of the 13th was wasted, as was Savannah's pair of base runners at first and third with no outs in the 16th.