The Macon Braves wore their customary road grays Tuesday, but for the man on the mound at Lake Olmstead Stadium, this was anything but another road start.
For Macay McBride, the former Screven County High School star, it was homecoming. With Lake Olmstead Stadium filled with his family and friends, he didn't let his boisterous fans down.
Making his first start in Augusta as a Braves farmhand, McBride couldn't have scripted it any better. He turned in a memorable performance, overpowering the GreenJackets for 7 1/3 innings in a 5-0 victory.
Though he already had experienced two homecomings pitching against the Savannah Sand Gnats at Grayson Stadium - about 60 miles from his hometown of Sylvania, Ga. - McBride said pitching in Augusta was extra special.
"I love Augusta, and I played ball here more than anywhere in this area, so it was nice to have family and friends here, and to go out and pitch well for them," said McBride, the Atlanta Braves' first-round pick in the 2000 draft. "Some minor-league games, you come out and nobody's in the stands, but tonight it was nice to get the adrenaline going."
McBride relied on the adrenaline rush to supplement his great stuff and excellent command of all four of his pitches Tuesday. He limited the Jackets to just two hits - both singles. He walked two and struck out seven batters en route to his third victory over the Jackets this season.
"I pitched on this mound my freshman year in summer league, I think against Lakeside (High)," said McBride, who improved to 7-7 and lowered his ERA to 2.28, third-best in the South Atlantic League. "It felt great to be out there again."
McBride, handcuffed the Jackets with a fastball that touched 93 mph and a good mix of breaking balls and off-speed pitches.
He surrendered a one-out single to Ryan Petersen in the first inning, but he didn't give up another until a one-out single in the eighth by Edgar Martinez.
McBride retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced, including 15 straight at one point.
"The thing with Macay is he has great stuff and great makeup and composure, but the thing that makes him special is he's a competitor," Macon manager Lynn Jones said. "He's aggressive and doesn't back down to hitters. He's an impressive young pitcher with a very bright future."
But the fastball Martinez drilled for the single was McBride's 108th and final pitch. It was only the second time this season he had gone into the eighth inning, and Jones made the call to reliever Blaine Boyer.
Jones also had an ulterior motive. The pitching change gave the local hero a chance to bask in the glory one last time. McBride walked off the mound to a standing ovation then tipped his cap to the crowd of 2,048 fans.
"That was real nice," said McBride's mom, Angel. "A lot of people came to see Macay pitch tonight, and I was glad he pitched so well. This is the fourth time he's faced the GreenJackets, and they're a good hitting team, so I was very happy."
Braves 5, Jackets 0
Turning point: Macon Braves starter and former Screven County High School star Macay McBride set the tone early by retiring 16 of the first 17 batters he faced.
Big bat: Braves second baseman Aaron Herr, the son of former big leaguer Tommy Herr, went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI.
Top gun: McBride pitched 7 1/3 innings of two-hit ball and struck out seven.
For the record: WP - McBride (7-7). LP - Rafael Sanchez (5-11). Save - None.
At The Lake: A crowd of 2,048 fans gives the Jackets 92,140 for 44 dates (2,048 average, eighth in the SAL).
Tonight: Braves (RHP Gonzalo Lopez 6-8, 2.66) vs. Jackets (RHP Manny Delcarmen 6-7, 4.54), 7:15 p.m., Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.