A sloppy day on the infield and a lack of late-inning hits were enough to hand the Augusta GreenJackets a 5-1 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs and push the final series of the season to the brink of a sweep.
The GreenJackets (37-32, 69-69 overall) lost their third game in a row with the help of a fielding error by second baseman Carlos Willoughby and two by shortstop Travious Relaford. The mistakes put the home team in an early 3-1 deficit and the GreenJackets, who rank last in the league in team batting average, stranded six runners the rest of the game and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
“We didn’t have any offensive support again,” manager Lipso Nava said. “We’re kind of struggling in that department toward the end of the season here.”
Augusta starter Kevin Couture (2-7) fell victims to the errors. He was pulled after Relaford’s first error in the fourth inning and gave up three runs, two unearned, on five hits and two walks.
Tyler Hess got the GreenJackets through the middle of the game with three scoreless innings, but the RiverDogs jumped further ahead when GreenJackets ace Kyle Crick helped out an already taxed bullpen by making a rare relief appearance. The 19-year-old right-hander made his final start last week but was short of the necessary innings required to qualify for the league lead in ERA.
Crick threw two innings, one out short of getting him to the required number of innings pitched, and allowed two earned runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter. His ERA rose to 2.51, which is 0.04 behind Asheville’s Tyler Anderson for the league lead.
Crick’s first appearance as a reliever this season did help an extremely stretched bullpen after the team used five pitchers in Saturday night’s loss.
Kyle Vazquez relieved Crick and gave up a one-out double but stranded the runner at third in a scoreless ninth inning.
Charleston (33-35, 72-63) used three pitchers in the victory, including reliever Zach Arneson, who got his first win by retiring six of the seven batters he faced. The RiverDogs will go for the series sweep Monday afternoon with a special Labor Day start time of 2:05 p.m.
“We know win or lose we still had a successful season,” Nava said. “I’m hoping that we can get that win tomorrow and finish the season on a high note.”
The GreenJackets face a must-win situation to prevent the franchise’s first losing season since Augusta became a San Francisco Giants affiliate in 2005.