Though the signs of improvement have been obvious, the hottest team in the South Atlantic League got a thorough cooling off Saturday night as the Augusta GreenJackets lost 9-2 to the Greenville Drive.
The GreenJackets, who had won four in a row and 10 of their past 12, got in their own way with a series of mistakes that allowed Greenville to run away with the largest Augusta defeat since an 11-3 drubbing in Asheville, N.C., in May.
The trouble started in the third inning when Ben Thomas dropped a pick-off throw that would have erased a leadoff walk. The runner stole second later in the at-bat, then scored when the GreenJackets failed to turn a 6-4-3 double play.
“That third inning was the key,” Augusta manager Lipso Nava said. “We needed to turn that double play and that pick-off play. That’s two outs right there.”
Instead, Greenville took advantage with back-to-back doubles from David Renfroe and Boss Moanaroa in a three-run third that gave the Drive the lead for good.
GreenJackets starter Joseph Biagini (0-4) gave up a career-high seven runs on seven hits and five walks before being pulled with two outs in the sixth. His seven strikeouts were a career high, but he also gave up five doubles.
Reliever Steven Neff put two more runs on the board in the seventh.
The middle of Greenville’s lineup did most of the damage.
Drew Turocy, Renfroe and Moanaroa, the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters, went 5 for 12 with three doubles, five RBI and six runs.
Matty Ott gave Greenville four innings of relief to get his third save.
Drive starter Scott Swinson (4-0) gave up one run on three hits and two walks for his third win in five starts.
Rehabbing Red Sox outfielder Jason Repko went 0 for 3 for Greenville with two walks and was hit by a pitch.
The game tied for the longest nine-inning game at Lake Olmstead this season at 3 hours, 11 minutes.
An announced crowd of 4,379 turned out for Southeastern United Dairy Industry Association Night, which included a postgame fireworks show.