Home run trots are supposed to be triumphant strides around the base paths. If it's your first professional home run, it should be even sweeter.
For Augusta second baseman Lee Curtis, it was a pain in the leg. One pitch before his home run cleared the left-field wall, Curtis fouled a ball off his leg. His limping jaunt around the bases was evident, and manager Russ Morman replaced him in the top of the sixth inning.
The rest of the game was a pain for the GreenJackets as well.
Jon Albaladejo pitched a four-hitter and retired the final 13 batters he faced to give Hickory a 3-1 victory and a sweep of the four-game series at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Albaladejo was particularly effective against the top six hitters in the Augusta battery. He didn't give up a single hit - going 0-for-21 - and he recorded five of his six strikeouts. Chad Spann fanned twice, his second one coming to end the game.
"He pounded the zone with all of his pitches," Morman said. "You're going to have success going 0-1, 0-2. He had us in a hole a lot. He threw a whale of a game."
Augusta pitchers weren't too shabby, either. Starter Angus Roy pitched four innings and gave up just two hits and two runs. Relievers Milton Tavarez and originally scheduled starter Jon Lester went five innings combined and gave up two hits and one unearned run.
Roy's only trouble spot came in the second inning, when Hickory's Brad Eldred got some revenge on the GreenJackets' pitching staff. Eldred was hit three times before Sunday's game and let out his frustrations on the second pitch he saw from Roy.
Eldred smacked a tree-topping drive over the left-center field wall to give Hickory (8-2) a 1-0 lead. The Southern Division-leading Crawdads added another run after two walks and an RBI single by Taber Lee.
Augusta threatened in the third inning, getting back-to-back base hits from Greg Stone and Michael Goss to put runners at first and third with one out. Albaladejo worked out of the jam by picking off Goss at first and getting Christopher Durbin to fly out to left field on the next pitch to end the threat.
"The physical errors are a part of the game," Morman said. "It's the mental errors we have to eliminate. As a team the players have to deal with and overcome mental errors. We're not able to do that right now."
Crawdads 3, Jackets 1
TURNING POINT: Trailing 2-0, the Jackets put runners on first and third with one out in the third inning. Hickory starter Jon Albaladejo picked off Michael Goss at first, then got Chris Durbin to fly out and keep the GreenJackets off the scoreboard.
BIG BAT: Augusta second baseman Lee Curtis hit his first professional home run in the fifth inning, but he left the game after fouling a ball off his leg via the pitch before the home run.
TOP GUN: Albaladejo pitched his second complete game of the season, striking out six and giving up only four hits.
FOR THE RECORD: WP: Jon Albaladejo (5-3); LP: Angus Roy (3-6).
ON DECK: The Jackets then continue their seven-game homestand with three against Capital City before playing a fourth game against the Bombers in Columbia.
Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or email@example.com.
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