Another crowd of more than 5,000 showed up at Lake Olmstead Stadium, but the Augusta GreenJackets bats failed to make an appearance in a 6-1 series-opening loss to the Hagerstown Suns.
The GreenJackets (9-12) matched a season low with three hits and failed to capitalize off key scoring opportunties. They loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth on singles from Shawn Payne and Ben Thomas and a Jose Cuevas walk but got only one run.
Of the seven Augusta runners stranded, four were left in scoring position. The loss was the GreenJackets’ third in four games and dropped the team’s home record to 3-8.
Though the team now sits three games out of .500 and seven games behind South Atlantic League Southern Division leader Charleston, GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava said his players don’t need to panic.
“The guys need to realize that it’s early, and this is not the end of the world,” he said. “It’s a long season, and it’s just a matter of being able to make adjustments in every area - hitting, pitching, fielding. Obviously, we’re lacking in the hitting right now.”
Augusta lefty Bryce Bandilla (1-1) made his second start and was pulled after putting the first two runners on in the fifth on a single and a fielding error from first baseman Ben Thomas. Bandilla allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks.
“Nobody on our team likes losing, and so it’s hard right now,” Bandilla said. “This is something where we’ve got to come together to get through it. Obviously, I didn’t pitch well enough tonight to give us a chance to win.”
Steven Neff took over for Bandilla and allowed two Hagerstown runs on a single and a wild pitch. Cutter Dykstra got the single on a grounder up the middle to give the Suns a 2-1 lead, and Billy Burns followed with a grounder to second with runners at the corners for the first of his two RBI.
Adalberto Mejia and Kevin Couture each threw scoreless innings to get Augusta to the ninth, but Cody Hall was tagged for two runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter to extend Hagerstown’s lead.
The GreenJackets bats failed to answer. Starter Brian Dupra (2-3) allowed the one run on three hits in five innings, and relievers Ben Hawkins and Bobby Lucas combined to no-hit Augusta over the final four innings.
An announced crowd of 5,532 made up the second largest of the season at Lake Olmstead Stadium.