Thomas, who hadn’t homered in 133 at bats this season, drove in all three Augusta runs with a two-run blast in the sixth and solo shot in the eighth.
But Rome countered with a team effort at the plate, tallying five runs on 12 hits for their first win since April 28. The South Atlantic League’s worst team at 7-29 appeared ready to spoil another shot at a victory after leaving the bases loaded in the first inning.
Fernando De Los Santos snuck a grounder throug the left side of the infield, Tony Mueller reached on a dribbler down the third base line and Kyle Kubitza broke his bat on a blooper that fell in shallow right.
GreenJackets starter Edwin Escobar regrouped to strike out Will Skinner, then got Jakob Dalfonso to ground into an inning-ending double play to escape unharmed.
But Dalfonso found redemption in the fifth inning when he once again came to the plate with runners in scoring position. The Middle Georgia College product ripped a one-out double to the gap in right-center to score two runs and give the Braves a 4-3 lead.
“After that second inning when I grounded out in the double play then I all that came up (in the fifth), I decided it was time to do something big right here,” Dalfonso said. “I was hunting the first pitch. That’s what our pitching coach told me to do. He said ambush the first pitch.”
Escobar (2-2) got out of the inning by striking out the next two batters but was pulled with two outs in the sixth. The left-handed Venezuelan gave up four runs, three earned, on 10 hits. He walked none and struck out seven.
The GreenJackets bats failed to respond, aside from Thomas’ 4 for 4 night. Augusta (17-19) left runners at second and third in the third inning on strikeouts from Kelby Tomlinson and Jose Cuevas. They left two more runners on in the sixth, and the game ended with a 4-6-3 double play, the sixth turned by Rome over the first two games.
“Situational hitting - nothing happened,” manager Lipso Nava said. “(The Braves) aren’t giving up. You have to play these teams like they’re in first place and leading the league. You have to play with the same intensity and same attitude. I’m starting to see guys not quitting but doubting. I don’t like that.”