For the second night in a row the Augusta GreenJackets bats had to do the heavy lifting. This time they had to break one to do it.
Elliott Blair’s broken-bat single in the bottom of the 12th set up the game-winning play in a 6-5 victory over the Asheville Tourists. The GreenJackets’ No. 9 hitter stole second base after his blooper found a hole in shallow right field then scored from second on an infield single and an error to give the home team its fifth win in six games.
“It seemed like nobody was going to score there for a while,” GreenJackets third baseman Garrett Buechele said. “But we get a broken bat and we get to go home.”
GreenJackets starter Chris Marlowe walked a career-high eight batters, including five in a row with two outs in the fifth to turn a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit.
But the Augusta bats picked their starter up with a three-run seventh to tie the game. After Blair put himself in scoring position with two outs, Jose Flores slapped the first pitch he saw deep into the hole at short, where Joey Wong made a diving stop. But the throw to first was wild, allowing Blair to score from second.
“At that point in the game you’re just looking for anything, anyway to score,” Blair said. “I got to third and (manager Lipso Nava) was telling me to watch the throw and when I saw it I went for it.”
Cody Hall was the last of four Augusta relievers to give at least an inning of work. The GreenJackets closer got the win after striking out five over the final two innings. He left the bases loaded in the top of the 12th thanks to a pair of strikeouts.
Russell Brewer, the third reliever Asheville used, took the loss by giving up the run in his second inning.
The GreenJackets (6-2, 38-39) scored six runs on eight hits to claim yet another series win and hold onto their share of first place in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division.
Augusta took three of four in the series, avenging their four-game sweep at the hands of Asheville earlier this season.
The game, which started at 7:05 p.m., was the longest of the season at Lake Olmstead Stadium, finishing just after 11.
Asheville, which experienced mechanical problems with its team bus after the game, will travel overnight to Lexington, Ky. to start a series with the Legends.
The GreenJackets will remain at Lake Olmstead Stadium to start a five-game series with the Savannah Sand Gnats tonight.