Who says the ball doesn't carry at The Lake?
The numbers. They don't lie.
Of the 989 home runs hit in the South Atlantic League through Friday, a mere 34 have left the big yard on Milledge Road.
Even for Morgan Walker, the GreenJackets' biggest longball threat, only two of his nine homers before Saturday came at home.
So, for a ballclub that has climbed atop the Southern Division standing mostly on pitching, it was a rarity - a Lake Olmstead Stadium homer by Walker - and a not-so-rare quality start from Michael Chaney that lifted the new-look Jackets to a 4-2 victory over Delmarva on Saturday night.
"This obviously is not a home-run park, so for Morgan to hit one out tonight was big," Jackets manager Scott Little said of Walker's 10th home run this season. "I was glad to see us give Chaney some runs for a change and get him a win."
"There's been a lot of talk about all the moves, and we've been joking around that this club is Lynchburg South," said Walker, who went 3-for-3, launching his two-run shot to left-center field off Shorebirds starter Maximo Heredia to give Augusta a 3-0 lead, after Freddy May led off the inning with a triple and scored on Carlos Rivera's RBI-single. "I'm happy we won one for Chaney, because I've joked with him that he's our jinxed pitcher. He really threw a great game tonight."
The Jackets' quick start staked Chaney to just enough cushion, and the 22-year-old left-hander went seven strong innings to snap a personal three-game losing streak.
Chaney gave up two runs on six hits to get his month off to a flying start, improving his record to 7-6.
Rick Paugh, back for his second stint with the Jackets this season after his demotion from advanced-Class A Lynchburg, struck out the side in relief in the eighth, and Ryan Halla fanned two Birds in a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his fifth save.
Delmarva scored twice in the fourth on RBI-doubles by Calvin Pickering and Tony Kurtz, but Chaney battled back and retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced to hold the lead.
May provided a big insurance run with his second hit of the game - an RBI-single in the seventh off Heredia (8-5), who allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings, taking the loss after the longest outing of his pro career.
"I felt real good tonight, that's probably the best I've thrown in a while," Chaney said. "They're a good-hitting club, and I just wanted to keep them off balance and mix up my pitches."
As for "Lynchburg South," Walker was referring to the Jackets' additions via the HillCats' subtractions - pitchers Derek Bullock and Paugh, and infielder Derek Swafford, who joined the club earlier this week. The posse includes Walker, who was sent down from Lynchburg on July 10.
"This is a totally different team now than we were in the first half, but I'll tell you what, this club is talented now. There's a lot of experience, a lot of the guys on this club have played high-A ball, and that's going to help us."
"Morgan got off to a great start when he came back (to Augusta) but had been struggling a bit until last week," Jackets manager Scott Little said. "He looks like he's getting back to where he was and had some real good at-bats tonight. I'm thrilled, because I really need his bat."
NOTES: The Jackets are 33-27 on the road this season, and are now just 23-29 at home. ... When the Jackets face Birds left-hander John Parrish today, they'll look to snap a three-game losing streak against southpaw starters. ... Shortstop Luis Lorenzana, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement, turned in a dazzling play to his left behind second base to steal a base hit away from Delmarva's Carlos Cassimiro leading off the ninth.
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