Perfect weather and the promise of postgame fireworks drew a Lake Olmstead Stadium-record 5,858 fans to the Augusta GreenJackets game Saturday night.
They had to wait for the fireworks to see something worth their applause.
The Augusta pitching staff added to its league-leading walk total and the offense couldn’t touch Savannah starter Domingo Tapia in a 6-0 loss.
Tapia (1-0) needed just 76 pitches to throw seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and no walks. The 20-year-old Dominican struck out a career-high eight and retired the last 12 batters he faced with a 98 mph fastball and deceptive slider.
“That kid’s got some talent,” GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava said. “That’s a major league arm right there. We weren’t able to make the adjustments we needed to at all tonight.”
The GreenJackets (5-5) were shut out for the second night in a row and stretched their scoreless streak to 23 innings with a meager three-hit effort. Garrett Buechele and Eric Sim managed back-to-back one-out singles in the third but were stranded. The same went for Elliot Blair, who led off the fourth with a double.
“We just had trouble preparing ourselves to hit that fastball, but then he changes the speed on you and it’s hard to make an adjustment like that,” center fielder Chuckie Jones said. “That’s what we’re doing here. We’ve got to learn to find a way to do it.”
Savannah (6-4) got a perfect outing from reliever Marco Camarena, who retired all six batters he faced.
Augusta starter Kyle Crick, the 49th overall pick in last year’s draft, appeared poised to match Tapia’s dominant performance by allowing just one hit over three shutout innings.
But Crick faltered in the fourth. After Brian Harrison led off the inning with an infield single, Aderlin Rodriguez laced a ball to left-center field that would have gone for at least a double had Blair not made a diving grab in left field. Crick walked four of the next five batters and moved them over with a pair of wild pitches. Savannah capitalized with a Tillman Pugh pop up that scored two runs after falling between right fielder Michael Mergenthaler, first baseman Ben Thomas and second baseman Carlos Willoughby.
The six-run fourth was the game’s only offense. Crick (0-1) gave up five runs, two earned, and five walks.
The record-breaking crowd topped the previous Lake Olmstead Stadium attendance record of 5,828 set May 21, 2009 when John Smoltz made a rehab appearance with the Greenville Drive. A rehab start from David Justice drew 6,231 fans in 1991, when the Augusta Pirates played at Heaton Stadium.