Sand Gnats' leadoff man socks it to Jackets again

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One night after the Augusta GreenJackets fell to Savannah on Jordany Valdespin's two-run homer, the Sand Gnats' 6-foot, 174-pound second baseman did it again Friday night.

Another two-run homer by the leadoff batter gave Savannah a three-run cushion in the seventh inning on its way to a 4-1 victory.

For the second night in a row, a lack of offensive production hurt Augusta. The GreenJackets stranded 11 runners, eight in scoring position.

"We talk to them about (situational hitting), and emphasize it every day," GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer said. "But stuff like this is going to happen. We're a lot younger than most of the teams in this league, and we're going to go through trials and tribulations like this. But it'll come around."

The heartbreaker came in the bottom of the ninth, when the GreenJackets' 7-8-9 hitters loaded the bases on a hit batter, a single and a walk. But the top of the lineup sent two grounders back to the mound. The last one, by Wendell Fairley, went for a home-to-first base double play that ended the game.

Savannah starter Jeff Kaplan gave up one run over five innings, but he got a no decision after leaving the game tied at 1.

Reliever Jeurys Familia (1-0) held the GreenJackets scoreless over the final two innings to get the win.

Augusta reliever Justin Fitz-gerald (0-1) got the loss after giving up the homer to Valdespin.

GreenJackets C.J. Zeigler and Josh Mazzola each went 2-for-4, as Augusta matched Savannah with seven hits. But the GreenJackets' hits never came when they were needed most.

"I'm sure it will come around. We're hitting. We've just got to hit in the right situations," Mazzola said. "We can all hit pretty well. It's just a matter of time."

Mazzola's RBI single in the first gave the GreenJackets a 1-0 lead.

Savannah tied it in the second on a sacrifice fly by Kai Gronauer.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.


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