If only Larry Williams could've gotten that one pitch a little lower.
For five innings Thursday, Williams rendered the Columbus RedStixx's bats virtually useless. The Augusta GreenJackets' starting pitcher only allowed two base runners. However, Columbus strung three consecutive hits off Augusta's starting pitcher to start the sixth inning.
Williams hung the ball just a tad too much to RedStixx first baseman Billy Munoz who drilled it down the left-field line, driving in two runs in Columbus' 3-2 victory at Lake Olmstead Stadium. That one mistake led to the GreenJackets (14-7) being swept in the two-game series with the RedStixx. Columbus (8-12) won Wednesday's meeting 4-2.
Augusta relievers Jeff Kelly and O.J. Cook held the RedStixx to one hit over the final 3 2/3 innings. It would be the GreenJackets' inability to put together a rally of their own against Columbus starter Mike Spiegel and reliever Ken Wagener that brought about their demise. All four of Augusta's hits came in different innings.
GreenJackets manager Marty Brown couldn't fault his pitchers' performance Thursday night.
"Larry Williams did a great job," Brown said. "Other than that one pitch he'd like to get back from Munoz, he pitched well."
Williams (4-6) struck out six, hit one batter and surrendered three hits before being relieved by Kelly in the sixth inning. Augusta's pitching staff kept the GreenJackets within striking distance of the RedStixx but were matched by the performance of their opponents.
Brown said his team's futile attempts to put runners on base cost the Jackets in the two-game series against Columbus.
"We missed out on a couple of (offensive) opportunities tonight," Brown said. "We've been tearing it up the second half of the season but tonight we needed to get our leadoff men on base. Our key is to get those guys on base and let (Eddy) Furniss, (Xavier) Burns and (Derrick) Lankford drive them in.
"Usually when our table-setters struggle it hurts us."
The table was bare Thursday. The first three hitters in Augusta's lineup went a paltry 1-12 with Victor Gutierrez picking up the lone hit when he led off the first inning with a single to left field.
The GreenJackets held a 1-0 lead after five innings before Columbus broke open the game in the sixth. Lee Evans doubled to open the fifth but was stranded on second when Bo Hundt struck out and Alex Pena popped out to center field.
Terrance Freeman then hit a dribbler to Columbus second baseman Joe Kilburg. Kilburg didn't charge the ball and was forced to send an off-balance throw to Munoz at first base. The ball sailed by Munoz and Evans raced home to give the GreenJackets a brief 1-0 lead.
Evans expects the Jackets' two-game losing streak to come to an end soon. He said the pitching staff has put Augusta in position to win and foresees the offense returning when the GreenJackets open a four-game series at Asheville, N.C., tonight.
"We've been doing a lot of winning so I don't think our players are satisfied," Evans said. "We're right on the verge of coming back and getting a putting together a long winning streak."
Columbus -- 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 -- 3
Augusta -- 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 -- 2
E -- Kilburg, Burns. DP -- Columbus 2, Augusta 1. LOB -- Columbus 5, Augusta 3. 2B -- Munoz (18), Burns (15), Evans (11), Hundt (6). SB -- Alvarez (3), Pena (4). CS -- Munoz (1), Freeman (16).
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