A patient Augusta GreenJackets lineup outlasted a quality outing from starting pitcher Lino Martinez, then took advantage of a pair of middle relievers in a 7-4 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws at Lake Olmstead Stadium on Monday night.
Ten of Augusta’s 11 hits went for singles but they were enough to escape an early deficit, claim a two-run lead then bail out an uncharacteristically shaky bullpen for a hard-fought win.
“The bats were there at the end of the game when we needed them,” manager Lipso Nava said. “If we can do that on an everyday basis we’ll be OK.”
Martinez was perfect the first time through the Augusta lineup and faced the minimum through five innings before faltering in the sixth. The GreenJackets erased a 2-0 deficit with four consecutive two-out singles.
Augusta claimed its first lead in the seventh with two more runs after Lakewood manager Mickey Morandini went to his bullpen.
Reliever Matt Campbell loaded the bases with a leadoff single to Brett Krill and two walks, then drilled Elliott Blair in the back on an 0-1 pitch to give the GreenJackets the lead. Jose Flores added another run by beating out a potential double-play ball with the bases loaded.
Augusta’s bullpen, which has saved the team several times this season, stumbled with the two-run lead. Steven Neff blew a save opportunity by giving up three hits in a two-run eighth to tie the game at four.
The GreenJackets’ bats saved the day with another surge of singles in the bottom of the eighth against Lakewood reliever Yari Sosa (1-2). Devin Harris and Wes Hodges singled to start the inning and Brett Krill’s 4-6-3 double play scored Harris.
After Joe Staley’s two-out double, Kelby Tomlinson and Blair followed with singles for two more runs and a comfortable lead.
“Obviously we don’t have impressive offensive numbers, but we do have some very talented hitters,” Staley said.
Neff (4-1) blew the save opportunity by allowing two runs on three hits in the top of the eighth but picked up the win instead after his team took the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Closer Kyle Vazquez earned his sixth save with a perfect ninth inning.