Originally created 04/07/01

Late-inning heroics push Jackets to victory



For eight innings, all roads led to zeros.

Great starting pitching and strong defense trapped Macon and Augusta in a scoreless tie all the way down to the wire Friday night at Luther Williams Field.

The Braves couldn't solve Augusta right-hander Seung Jun Song while the GreenJackets could barely touch Macon righty Brett Evert, and clutch fielding saved the teams' middle relievers from losing ground.

But in the top of the final inning, the Jackets finally found the path to a 1-0 victory.

Greenjackets first baseman Matthew Cooper, hitless in three at bats coming into the ninth, knocked a two-out single just fair down the left field line off Macon's Jason Mikels. The hit drove in right fielder Julio Guerrero from second base and evened the four-game, season-opening series at 1-1.

Evert and Song's pitching duel, which ended when Song was pulled in the sixth with a one-hitter going, mirrored Adam Wainwright and Mauricio Lara's four-inning battle Thursday night. But on Friday, the Braves' bats didn't help out.

"I just did the best I could and I left it up to the team to do the rest," said Evert, who surrendered just three hits, struck out five and walked none in seven innings of work. "Tonight, (Augusta) had good pitching, too. Nights happen like that when you face good pitching, too, but you sort of hope you'll be able to score at least one run. It's sort of tough getting shut out at home."

Song, a native of South Korea, faced the minimum number of batters in his six innings of work, striking out nine. He gave up a hit to Braves second baseman Alejandro Machado in the first, but Machado was caught trying to steal second.

And Song surrendered a lead-off walk to Alph Coleman in the fifth, but he then induced a double play to clear the bases.

Macon threatened in both the seventh and eighth innings, both times with two outs. In the seventh, Michael Forbes singled off Augusta reliever Rene Miniel and advanced on a passed ball, and Coleman then drew a walk. But Bryce Terveen grounded out to second to end the inning.

Then in the next inning, shortstop Kelly Johnson reached base on an error and stole second. But Raul Lopez grounded out to short, and that was the end.

The Braves escaped danger in the top of the eighth, when lefty Ben Kozlowski took over for Evert and gave up a two-out double on an 0-2 count to Augusta third baseman Raul Nieves.

Antron Sieber followed with a single to put runners on first and third, and Michael Gambino came up and hit a line shot to left. But Coleman made a nice grab to end the inning.

The catch was one impressive play in an errorless defensive game for Macon.