Augusta rally falls short in Rome victory

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In a season of development, Rome Braves starter Lucas Sims is quickly grasping the adjustments of the minor leagues.

Sims fought through highs and lows over five innings as the Braves beat the Augusta GreenJackets 9-6 on Monday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Sims, the Atlanta Braves’ first-round pick in 2012 out of Snellville, Ga., allowed three earned runs and four total on seven hits in five innings, walking four and striking out five.

“He made some pitches when he had to, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight as he’s been,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said. “He was having to pitch off his fastball and changeup.”

The athletic right-hander, ranked as the fifth overall prospect in the Braves system by Baseball America, fed the plate with tailing fastballs in the mid-90s throughout his 90-pitch outing, inducing nine swinging strikes.

He flashed a solid curveball, but his feel for the pitch wavered, spinning it early out of his hand at times and missing his spots. He threw a good changeup at times, showing the potential for three major league pitches when his command was on.

Finding that command and repeating his mechanics are adjustments Sims is making, according to Ingle.

“I didn’t throw as many strikes as I wanted,” Sims said. “Some curveballs got away from me, but you learn from it and move on. It’s just a matter of getting on top of things, getting downward action. It’s something I’ve been working hard on and hope I keep making progress.”

Rome (17-20) jumped out to a lead in the third and scored seven runs between the third and fifth innings. Three of those runs were plated on walks.

Augusta (16-18) bounced back with four runs in the final four innings, but it wasn’t enough to complete a comeback.

GreenJackets second baseman Alberto Robles went 3 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI. Shawn Payne reached base four times on two hits and two walks.

The Braves, meanwhile, got two RBI from Ross Heffley, who reached four times on a double and three walks. Jose Peraza and Casey Kalenkosky each had two RBI.

ROME 9, AUGUSTA 6

PLAY OF THE GAME: Rome scored two runs in the third on four walks by GreenJackets starter Joe Biagini.

STAR OF THE GAME: Braves second baseman Ross Heffley went 1 for 2 with a double, two RBI and three walks.

NEXT: Rome at Augusta, 7:05 p.m. today


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