There was no wiping the smile off Elliott Blair’s face.
“Tonight was just a fun night,” he said. “We’ve faced some pretty tough pitching up to this point in the season, and to come out and get a good win feels great.”
Blair and teammate Joe Staley hit back-to-back eighth-inning homers to support a bullpen that threw five no-hit innings against Kannapolis in a 7-2 Augusta GreenJackets win Thursday at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
San Francisco Giants coordinator of minor league hitting Steve Decker rushed into town to join the team after a five-game losing streak over the first homestand saw just five GreenJackets runs.
The young sluggers have responded quickly, already posting 20 runs over the first three games of this series with the Intimidators, including 10 hits Thursday. Seven came in the finals two innings to turn a late, one-run deficit into a big win.
Manager Lipso Nava was pleased with the win but said he wants to see more production earlier in the game.
“We still have to make some adjustments,” he said. “It’s good to see a couple of guys get back-to-back homers, but we’re still missing the point. We’re swinging through too many fastballs that we should be putting into play. (Decker) is here addressing that.”
Augusta starter Clayton Blackburn, pitching on eight days’ rest due to a rain out and scheduled off day earlier in the week, struggled with location early but stranded four runners over the first two innings. He couldn’t cheat the Intimidators a third time when Mark Haddow hit a two-out, two-RBI triple on a 2-0 count to claim an early 2-1 Kannapolis lead.
Blackburn’s two runs were unearned and came on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven over four innings.
“I felt that Blackburn was a little bit off with his command, and he’s got pretty good command,” Nava said. “But he struggled tonight, and I believe that’s because of going so many days without seeing action. But he battled and kept us in the game and kept his composure, so that was good to see.”