Augusta starter settles down in win

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An early two-run triple didn’t faze starter Bryce Bandilla, as he came back to pitch four scoreless innings and lead the Augusta GreenJackets to a 3-2 win over the Hickory Crawdads on Friday night.

Hickory (20-15) opened the scoring with two early runs in the second inning when a walk and single set up a two-run triple by Drew Robinson, who pulled a fastball on the inner half into the right-center gap.

“I wasn’t going to let him beat me on the changeup, so I went fastball and he beat me anyway,” Bandilla said. “They were fighting and I felt good with the fastball, so I gave it a shot.”

Bandilla settled in following the two early runs to allow just the two on three hits in six innings, walking two and striking out two.

Bandilla benefited from good fastball command and a changeup that flashed as plus in several at-bats, resulting in eight swinging strikes overall. He also induced six groundouts to four flyouts.

“I felt like my fastball location was good,” he said. “I had a pretty strong change, and I mixed them well enough to get some pop ups and groundouts when I needed.”

Augusta (18-16) answered in the fourth with two runs of its own when Ben Thomas singled to bring home Brett Krill and Joe Staley, who reached on a single and walk, respectively, to tie the game.

The GreenJackets were able to take the lead in the fifth when a walk and single set up an RBI single by Staley.

However, it was all the GreenJackets would need, as Derek Law pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and Cody Hall closed it out in the ninth for his 20th save.

“It’s to the point where we need those clutch hits off walks,” said hitting coach Nestor Rojas, who filled in for manager Lipso Nava as he attended his daughter’s high school graduation. “We took advantage of them tonight and was able to win the game off them.”

Staley reached base three times on two walks and a single, driving home the go-ahead run. Thomas recorded the other two RBI for Augusta. The GreenJackets’ two through six hitters each had one hit.

Hickory starter Will Lamb allowed three runs on six hits in five innings, walking three and striking out five.

The Crawdads’ Jordan Akins, considered a top 20 prospect in the Texas system by Baseball Prospectus, was pulled following his at-bat in the third inning for not running out a pop fly, manager Bill Richardson said.

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