That's the lesson the Augusta GreenJackets learned tonight in a 1-0 loss to West Virginia at Lake Olmstead Stadium. The Power outfielders gunned down two GreenJackets base runners to kill off a pair of run scoring opportunities on a night when runs came at a premium.
"It was the difference in the game," West Virginia manager Gary Robinson. "That was a fist fight tonight, and we were lucky enough to make those plays."
Left fielder Rogelio Noris passed his test in the fifth when Augusta's Bobby Haney tried to score from second on a Carlos Willoughby single. Noris' one-hop to home beat Haney and catcher Elias Diaz blocked the plate to prevent the runner from scoring.
Center fielder Andy Vasquez, who was plugged into the game in the bottom of the second for starter Mel Rojas Jr. for what Robinson said was a "defensive substitution," stopped Augusta's other prime scoring opportunity in the eighth. The first two batters reached base when Willoughby bunter his way on and Raynor Campbell was hit by a pitch. But Josh Mazzola flied out to shallow center, and Vasquez fired a one-hop strike to third to get Willoughby trying to advance.
GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava said the two plays were key in a "beautiful" game that saw quality pitching and few mistakes.
"They shut us down," Nava said. "That was a pitchers' duel tonight."
Matt Curry's leadoff double in the seventh led to the only run of the game. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when a potential inning-ending double play ball to second was bobbled by Willoughby.
West Virginia starter Zack Dodson threw five scoreless innings, and relievers Brooks Pounders and Jason Townsend combined to allow just one hit the rest of the way. Pounders (3-0) got the win and Townsend picked up his first save.
Augusta starter Taylor Rogers (1-4) was pulled with one out in the seventh in a scoreless game, but one of the two base runners he passed on to reliever Gaspar Santiago scored the game-winner.
GreenJackets left fielder Rafael Rodriguez saw his hitting streak end at 14 games thanks to an 0 for 4 night with three strikeouts. Willoughby tallied three of Augusta's six hits.
Curry led the Power with a 2 for 4 night.
Campbell, who left the game after taking a pitch to the chest in the eighth, walked off the field with help but said after the game the injury wasn't serious.