GreenJackets torch RiverDogs in series opener

Sanford beats heat for third win

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Pitchers worked swiftly, batters swung liberally and home plate umpire Lawrence Reeves didn't hesitate making his balls and strikes calls in a steamy afternoon game at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

But in the hours before the first pitch came in at 5:40 with a game-time temperature of 98 degrees, Augusta GreenJackets starter Shawn Sanford ran the full length of the outfield warning track 10 times under the hot summer sun.

"I like to do a little warm up. I try to get the sweat going," he said. "I'll come in and get showered and get changed, but I don't want to step on the mound and start dripping (sweat) for the first time. I like to get a feel for the weather before I get out there."

The strategy worked for the 22-year-old right-hander, who had no problems with the heat or the Charleston RiverDogs in a 4-2 win that took just two hours, 18 minutes.

Sanford (3-4) matched a season high by lasting seven innings in the summer sun. He gave up a home run to Slade Heathcott to start the game but faced 16 batters before allowing another hit. The 13th round pick from the 2009 draft struck out four, walked one and scattered three hits for his second win in a row.

The lengthy outing was especially key considering the shape of Augusta's bullpen entering the three-game homestand.

"He was good," manager Lipso Nava said. "The last two days we used too many guys (out of the bullpen), so that was a factor that he was able to give us seven solid innings."

The GreenJackets trailed 1-0 through five innings, managing just two hits off Charleston starter Nik Turley. The left-hander faced just two batters over the minimum and left with a one-run lead but got a no decision.

Augusta pounced on the Charleston bullpen. Adam Duvall's triple scored the home team's first run in the sixth. Doubles from Chris Lofton and Ehire Adrianza did the damage in a three-run seventh.

Brett Bochy threw a scoreless eighth inning for Augusta. Stephen Harrold walked two batters in the ninth and gave up an RBI single to Kelvin De Leon but recovered to pick up his eighth save of the season and third in his last four outings.

The GreenJackets (24-33) snapped a three-game losing streak and beat the RiverDogs for the fourth time in five meetings. The win also moved Augusta a game ahead of Charleston (23-34) and into sole possession of fifth place in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Ehire Adrianza's hanging fly ball with two outs in the seventh looked like the end of the inning, but the ball found the right spot in the left-center field gap and scored two runs that made the difference.

STAR OF THE GAME: Augusta starter Shawn Sanford got the win and moved into the top five among South Atlantic League pitchers by lowering his ERA to 2.59.

NEXT: Augusta vs. Charleston, Monday, 7:05 p.m.


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