The Augusta GreenJackets third baseman took a fastball to the shoulder with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. The blow bounced up and caught him in the ear before Buechele walked to first and Jose Flores trotted home from third to score the game-winning run in a 2-1 victory over the Rome Braves.
“I wanted to get a hit, but if it comes inside you can’t give up ground. If he’s going to give it to you for free you might as well take it,” Buechele said. “I thought it was going to be away so I was kind of diving in and then it was at my ear. I really had no choice but to get hit. I had no time to move.”
Bryam Garcia, pitching in his third inning of work, walked two batters and gave up a single in the ninth inning before Buechele stepped to the plate and took one for the team. Garcia (0-1) threw perfect seventh and eighth innings with a strikeout and five fly outs before falling apart in the ninth.
The wild finish negated the effort of Rome starter Navery Moore, who struck out a career-high eight batters in six innings and gave up one run on three hits and no walks.
GreenJackets starter Kyle Crick put Augusta (29-35) in position to win, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out four despite dealing with a blister on the ring finger of his throwing hand that required a visit to the mound from trainer Garrett Havig.
“It was just a little blister,” Crick said. “No big deal.”
Crick gave way to reliever Steven Neff, who threw three scoreless innings before Kyle Vazquez (1-1) took over in the ninth.
Ben Thomas gave the GreenJackets their other run with an RBI single in the fourth to score Flores, who doubled to lead off the inning. Flores went 1 for 3 with two runs scored and has recorded a hit in 8 of 11 games played for Augusta since joining the team June 2.
Augusta’s seventh win in nine games wrapped up another three-gave series with Rome (18-48) that saw the two teams play six consecutive times. The GreenJackets took two of three in each series.
“I’m happy,” manager Lipso Nava said. “Hopefully this has moved us in the right direction here. This is what got us to the postseason last year - winning series.”
An announced crowd of 2,967 attended the rare day game, which was promoted as Super Splash Day for area summer camps and day care programs. Including Tuesday night’s doubleheader, the game was Augusta’s third in 24 hours.