The first 7-inning game was stretched to eight when the GreenJackets missed multiple opportunities to break an early tie. But Willoughby saved the day with a grounder to the right side of the infield in the bottom of the eighth to bring home Brett Krill from third for a 2-1 win.
Tempers flared in the second game, which saw the benches clear after words were exchanged following a play at the plate in a decisive five-run fifth inning for Greenville. No ejections were handed out, and the Drive went on score four more in the sixth and two in the seventh for an 11-4 blowout win.
“We missed too many opportunities tonight,” GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava said. “It was good to see the guys work the pitch count (in Game 1), but we’ve got to continue to get better in those situations with runners on base.”
Greenville took an early lead in Game 1 on a solo homer from Boss Moanaroa in the second, but Augusta responded immediately with a run in the bottom of the inning on a Brett Krill single that scored Ben Thomas from second.
The GreenJackets wasted multiple opportunities to break the tie, stranding eight runners in a three-inning stretch.
Starter Chris Marlowe and reliever DeMondre Arnold (3-0) combined to hold Greenville to one run on seven hits, and the extra-inning victory temporary lifted Augusta to the .500 mark at 16-16 for the first time since April 14.
But the GreenJackets had little time to celebrate its third consecutive win.
Augusta wasted a quality outing from starter Bryce Bandilla in Game 2 with a pair of costly errors in the fifth inning.
Bandilla (1-3) struck out a career-high 10 batters but was pulled with two outs in the fourth after a dropped ball by center fielder John Eshleman and passed ball from catcher Joe Staley gave Greenville two extra outs.
“I was getting ahead with my fastball and the offspeed stuff was working,” Bandilla said. “I still should have gotten out of that situation. I’ve got to be the one to get better.”
The Drive (15-19) capitalized on the errors with back-to-back run-scoring hits from David Renfroe and Henry Ramos. Garin Cecchini, who reached base on a called third strike thanks to Staley’s passed ball, scored on a play at the plate after Renfroe’s hit and the benches cleared when Bandilla and Staley reacted to comments Cecchini made.
“It was something that was said, and I understand their frustration,” Nava said. “But we know that we’re a team, and there are more important things to do.”
Greenville’s Keury De La Cruz followed with a grand slam in the sixth to break the game open.