GreenJackets season starts sloppy

Savannah 3, Augusta 2

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SAVANNAH. Ga. — Minor-league baseball made its first pitch of the 2012 season in Savannah on Thursday night.

The Sand Gnats won a “sloppy” contest 3-2 on Charley Thurber’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Savannah third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez made three errors, Sand Gnats’ Travis Taijeron was hit by pitches twice, and Augusta pitcher Derek Law walked three consecutive batters.

In all, 14 players reached base without getting a hit.

Five minutes into the game, it started raining, caused a 20-minute delay.

But two other rain showers couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of 3,310 fans in Grayson Stadium.

And they cheered loudly after a three-base error by Augusta right fielder Michael Mergenthaler set up Thurber’s game-winning hit.

“You could call it was a little sloppy, but I thought the guys did a great job,” Sand Gnats manager Luis Rojas said. “I see Opening Day as an opportunity to get your feet wet. You’re getting the feel for the start of the season.”

Rojas saw a lot of positives. Savannah starting pitcher Logan Verrett made a tremendous diving catch of a bunt, helping to quell an Augusta rally.

Reliever Marco Camarena got out of a seventh-inning jam by fielding a bunt down the third-base line and throwing out speedy Carlos Willoughby at the plate.

Savannah’s third reliever Carlos Vazquez struck out five in a row.

Even Luis Nieves’ booted long fly was hit well, and Nieves hustled to get to third.

And Thurber, a 39th round draft pick by the Mets last June out of Tennessee, was clutch in the ninth, falling behind in the count 0-2 before bouncing his single over a drawn-in infield.

Thurber finished with two hits and drove in two runs.

“It’s my first preseason and to break camp and come here with the guys is something I’ve never experienced,” Thurber said. “I think opening day gave me an extra level of adrenalin I never felt before.”

The Sand Gnats and GreenJackets continue their four-game series tonight at 7:05 at Grayson Stadium.

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