Series openers have had a dramatic flair so far this season for the Augusta GreenJackets.
They blew a ninth-inning lead in their opener at Rome last week. They came back from a four-run deficit to win in 12 innings Monday against Asheville.
And Thursday at Lake Olmstead Stadium, the GreenJackets scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extra innings, but fell 8-7 in the 10th to the Columbus Catfish (3-4).
The Catfish wasted no time getting on base in the extra inning. Luis Jimenez led off with a single. Tony Abreu came in to pinch run and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Xavier Paul. Abreu went to third on a wild pitch by Augusta reliever Argimiro Guanchez and scored on a single to right by pinch hitter Mike Nixon.
The GreenJackets (2-6) forced the 10th inning by taking advantage of poor control by reliever Jose Diaz in ninth. The right-hander walked the bases loaded and all three of those runners came home to tie the game at 7-7. Dirimo Chavez scored first on a wild pitch by Diaz.
Jeff Ontiveros cut the lead to 7-6 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Claudio Arias, who had to change bats after Catfish manager Dann Bilardello questioned it to the umpires.
Brandon Moss' bloop single up the middle sent Scott White home to tie the game with only one out. But Diaz settled down and struck out Mickey Hall and Salvador Paniagua to end the inning.
Ozzy Rodriguez, the Catfish's No. 5 starter, came in to close out the 10th and sat the GreenJackets down in order for his first save. Diaz (1-1) got the win after giving up three runs on two hits in two innings. Guanchez (0-1) gave up one run on two hits for the loss.
The GreenJackets finally hit their first home run of the season Thursday, but the Catfish had two of their own. Left fielder Claudio Arias had the GreenJackets' homer with a solo shot to left center in the bottom of the second. The Catfish had a pair of two-run homers in the fifth and sixth innings.
Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
STAR OF THE GAME: Pinch-hitter Mike Nixon came off the bench with two outs in the 10th inning and hit the game-winning single.
KEY PLAY: The GreenJackets stranded the bases loaded in the fourth inning and the Catfish came back to take the lead over the next two innings.
TONIGHT'S GAME: Columbus at Augusta, 7:15. There will be fireworks after the game.
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