Augusta fans had to wait until the second homestand of the season to see it, but the GreenJackets bats finally came alive Tuesday night in a series-opening 9-4 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators.
The GreenJackets, who needed all six games of the first homestand to reach nine runs, did it in six innings with a balanced attack. An error and walk set up Joe Staley’s two-out, two-run double in the second to give Augusta (8-9) an early lead, and the Jackets opened the bottom of the third with five consecutive singles to start a four-run inning.
Jose Cuevas followed with a home run in the fourth and two-run blast in the sixth to cap Augusta’s third win in four games.
“Hitting is contagious,” manager Lipso Nava said. “We’ve seen some of the best pitching in the league already this season, and now we’re seeing guys learning to keep their focus and have quality at bats.”
With some of the San Francisco Giants’ top minor league brass in town, including coordinators of minor league hitting and pitching Steve Decker and Bert Bradley, the Augusta prospects showed off. Cuevas and Staley took aggressive approaches, doing damage on the first pitches of their at-bats.
“That’s what hitting is. Sometimes you’ve got to anticipate,” Staley said. “In a situation like that with runners on and two outs, you know a pitcher doesn’t want to fall behind in the count. So I was anticipating seeing something over the middle-inner half of the plate.”
Cuevas said he used advice from Decker to shorten his swing, which led to his second and third homers of the season.
“I changed my swing today, just a mechanics thing,” Cuevas said. “It worked.”
The Augusta bullpen, fully rested after Sunday’s rainout and Monday’s scheduled day off, shut out Kannapolis over the final five innings. Starter Joseph Biagini allowed four earned runs on five hits and a walk before being pulled with two outs in the fourth.
Paul Davis (1-0) and Scotty Walker combined to give up only one hit the rest of the way to preserve the win.
Starter Daniel Webb (0-3) lasted just 2⅔ innings, allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits for the Intimidators (6-12), who lost their seventh in a row