A combined cycle from Devin Harris and Garrett Buechele were wiped away when the bullpen fell apart Saturday night in the Augusta GreenJackets’ 8-2 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The second game of the final series of the season saw Buechele double in the first for a 1-0 lead. Harris led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to extend the lead and set up starter Danny Sandbrink for the win.
But relievers Chris Marlowe, Demondre Arnold and Steven Neff combined to allow seven runs on five hits, five walks and five wild pitches over the final two innings.
The poor performances came in the GreenJackets’ first game since being eliminated from postseason contention.
“I don’t question the effort, but this time of year you want to finish strong and something like this gives you a sour taste in your mouth,” manager Lipso Nava said.
“It’s a learning process. I know these games don’t mean anything to them, but we’re better than this.”
Marlowe (1-9) entered the game in the eighth with a 2-1 lead, and location problems immediately got him into trouble. He gave up a pair of singles to tie the game before bringing home the go-ahead run on his third wild pitch of the inning.
Arnold relieved Marlowe in the ninth and didn’t fare much better. He walked three batters, gave up three runs and didn’t get an out of the inning.
Neff inherited two runners and allowed both to score, giving up two singles and a walk to the first three batters he faced.
When he finally struck out Rob Refsnyder, who helped lead the Arizona Wildcats to a national title this year, on Charleston’s 10th at bat of the inning, GreenJackets backup catcher Myles Schroder was warming up in the bullpen.
“We didn’t want to waste any more arms,” Nava said. “We’re short already.”
Charleston reliever Melvin Mercedes (1-1) threw two scoreless innings to get the win.
Sandbrink left the game with one out in the sixth and a 2-1 lead. He allowed one run on six hits and no walks and struck out two.
The GreenJackets (37-31, 69-68 overall) need one more win over their final two games to secure the team’s eighth consecutive winning season, but they’ll have to do it with a short roster after two starters and a pitcher were called up before the game.
Starting pitcher Clayton Blackburn, catcher Jeff Arnold and all-star outfielder Shawn Payne left Augusta Saturday morning to join the Advanced-A San Jose Giants as they prepare for the California League playoffs.