A battle of high draft picks tilted toward the arm with sharper command Tuesday night, but a ninth-inning comeback quickly shifted the result.
Augusta’s Chase Johnson outdueled Hagerstown’s Lucas Giolito early in the game, but the Suns scored two runs in the ninth to beat the GreenJackets 4-3 at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Hagerstown’s Isaac Ballou tripled to tie the game at 3 in the ninth, and Wilmer Difo followed with an RBI single for the eventual winning run.
Johnson threw five scoreless innings on three hits for the GreenJackets, walking two and striking out six. He avoided hard contact with strikeouts and ground balls.
Johnson, drafted in the third round in 2013, worked 91-92 and touched 93 with his fastball, adding a solid changeup that kept Suns batters off balance. He induced eight swinging strikes and seven ground balls, and he didn’t allow any fly balls.
Johnson has allowed five earned runs with 21 strikeouts in 21⅔ innings this season.
He has kept the ball on the ground at a good rate and has avoided hard contact through four starts.
Giolito gave up two earned and three total runs on three hits, walking three and striking out five.
He induced eight swinging strikes and was neutral between ground balls and fly balls.
Giolito’s fastball ranged 91-96, routinely sitting 95-96 in the first inning. He added a power curveball with hard, downward movement, and a changeup later in the game that was equally impressive.
Giolito, drafted 16th overall in 2012, has allowed six earned runs over 17 innings this season, totaling 20 strikeouts. The 19-year-old right-hander has been reliable since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
Augusta scored its first run in the second on a fly ball by John Polonius that led to a force out.
The GreenJackets added a run in the third when Devin Harris walked with the bases loaded, but they failed to score another in the inning.
Their third run came in the fourth on an RBI triple by Jeremy Sy.
Augusta defeated Hagerstown 4-2 in the series opener Monday night.
After tonight’s game against the Suns, the GreenJackets play host to the Asheville Tourists.