The Augusta GreenJackets' fortunes in the postseason will rely heavily on the strength of a pitching staff which had been hit hard in a three-game series at Macon the last three nights.
Clint Johnston to the rescue. The first-round draft choice from Vanderbilt handcuffed the Savannah Sand Gnats for six innings and the offense produced just enough to give Augusta a 3-1 win. The victory was the fifth straight win over Savannah and gave Augusta a 16-8 advantage in the season series.
Johnston pitched six innings, allowing only two hits while striking out eight to improve to 3-3. Mike Gonzalez allowed one run in two innings with Brad Guy working the ninth inning to earn his fourth save of the season. Savannah starter Melvin Brazoban, despite allowing only three hits over six innings, suffered the loss to fall to 3-6.
"This was by far Clint's best outing of the season," said Augusta manager Marty Brown. "He had command of all of his pitches with good velocity on his fastball and he threw his breaking pitches for strikes. It was nice to see him take what he has learned from Scott (Augusta pitching coach Scott Lovecamp) to the mound."
The GreenJackets used the long-ball to plate their first run of the evening as first baseman Derrick Lankford belted a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall. The home run was Lankford's 21st of the year.
Augusta increased the lead to 2-0 in the 4th inning on Kory DeHaan's solo shot to right field. The home run was DeHaan's eighth of the season.
"Lankford and DeHaan had big hits tonight," said Brown. "Derrick has been hitting the ball well lately but Kory has been a little tired.
"Kory has played almost every game in center field but I gave him yesterday off and had him as the DH tonight so hopefully the rest is helping him."
Savannah scored its only run in the seventh on a double by first baseman Carlos Pena who scored one out later on double by third baseman Travis Hafner.
Augusta responded in the bottom half of the inning as Xavier Burns, who doubled to start the inning, scored on an error by Pena.
The two teams continue the three-game series tonight.