Lipso Nava’s second season as Augusta GreenJackets manager has already started out better than his first.
The team split its season-opening series in Savannah over the weekend, winning the second and fourth games of a four-game series.
In his first season as a manager, Nava’s 2011 squad dropped three of four to open the season. It did the same in the next series and finished the first half of the season with a 31-39 record, fifth out of seven teams in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division.
Nava said a better start this year was important.
“Development comes first, but if you win games that’s good because they understand that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Winning and having chemistry through teammates gets you ready for the next level.”
The GreenJackets opened this season with a one-run, walk-off loss Thursday in Savannah but bounced back with a come-from-behind win in their last at-bat Friday.
Entering the ninth inning trailing 5-3, Jose Cuevas tied the game with a two-out single to score runners from second and third. Ben Thomas drove in the game-winning run on the next at-bat with a double.
Savannah took the third game 7-1, tagging Augusta starter Adalberto Mejia for six earned runs on nine hits in 22/3 innings.
Cuevas, Carlos Willoughby and Shawn Payne each drove in two runs in Augusta’s 8-5 win Sunday.
FIRST AT-BAT: Willoughby, named a South Atlantic League All-Star a year ago after a strong first half, didn’t waste time getting back to business this season. As the GreenJackets’ leadoff hitter, he roped a triple on the first at-bat of the season.
The 23-year-old Colombian went 5 for 13 (.385) in the series with five hits and eight total bases.
PROSPECT WATCH: The top San Francisco Giants prospect on the Augusta roster this year, Kyle Crick, took the mound in the series finale Sunday. The 49th overall pick in last year’s draft got a no decision after allowing one earned run on three hits over 32/3 innings. The 19-year-old right-hander walked three and struck out three.
SMALL BALL: The GreenJackets were one of just two South Atlantic League teams to play their first four games without a home run. Rome, playing in Charleston, S.C., also failed to post a homer.
The Greensboro Grasshoppers, who started the season at home, hit a league-leading five home runs while taking three of four games from Lexington.
HOMECOMING: Lake Olmstead Stadium will see its first game of the season Thursday night. The GreenJackets will open a seven-game homestand with a four-game series against Savannah.