The South Atlantic League’s Southern Division has been a tight battle throughout the first half, and a weeklong road trip against two division rivals kept the Augusta GreenJackets in the thick of the race.
The GreenJackets went 3-4 against the Rome Braves and Savannah Sand Gnats last week, wrapping up a 14-game stretch against the teams.
GreenJackets manager Mike Goff said the road trip was important to the team’s chances in the first half, acknowledging that the teams at the top of the division are similar in talent.
Augusta went 5-1 against Rome over the stretch, maintaining a one-game advantage on the Braves. But Augusta went 2-6 against Savannah, giving the Sand Gnats a 1½-game advantage on the GreenJackets.
All three teams are chasing the Charleston RiverDogs, who have a 1½-game lead on the Sand Gnats for first place.
The GreenJackets are in position to take first from the RiverDogs, as the two teams meet nine times before the first half concludes.
RAISING CAIN’S NUMBERS: After a slow start to the season, GreenJackets outfielder Andrew Cain hit a hot streak just before the recent homestand ended, and he took it on the road.
Cain collected six hits, including a double and a home run, in the four-game series at home against Savannah. He continued the stretch at Rome, picking up five hits in three games, including a two-homer game May 22.
Cain wrapped up the trip at Savannah with a three-hit game Sunday. The 6-foot-6 outfielder from North Carolina is hitting .400 over his past 10 games, totaling three home runs, seven RBI, three walks and three stolen bases.
As a result, Cain is hitting .328 in May compared with .136 in April. He has faced left-handed pitching better, recording a .385 on-base percentage comparedwith .301 against righties.
The 23-year-old was drafted in the 24th round in 2012 out of UNC-Wilmington. He hit .243 with a .338 on-base percentage in 161 plate appearances for Salem-Keizer last season.
A scout said Cain’s size and athleticism are intriguing, and it shows on the field. Despite his large frame, Cain is 6 for 6 in stolen bases this season. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions in a pinch, though his future is on the corners. He shows good range and a good arm in the outfield.
WAKEFIELD GIVEAWAY: The GreenJackets will hold the first of their two bronze statuette giveaways Saturday.
The Tim Wakefield statuette will be given away at the gate to the first 1,200 fans at the 7:05 p.m. game. Wakefield is one of the first members of the Augusta GreenJackets Hall of Fame.
The second giveaway will feature a Pablo Sandoval statuette Aug. 3.