Originally created 05/05/04

Lack of hitting hinders squad



When a toddler started crying during the sixth inning of Tuesday's GreenJackets game, he might have summed up the feelings of most of the 1,098 fans in attendance at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Augusta starter Kyle Jackson had just given up a two-run single that extended Savannah's lead to six runs. It didn't get any better from there, and the Sand Gnats won the game 9-1 and the series three games to one. The GreenJackets have not won a series this season.

While no other fans started crying, at least not loud enough for everyone to hear, plenty yelled at home plate umpire Jessie Moreno. Many appeared displeased with Moreno's strikezone and weren't afraid to let him know it. But Moreno's strikezone didn't cost the GreenJackets the game. A lack of timely hitting and a struggling pitching staff did.

GreenJackets manager Chad Epperson shook up his batting lineup for the series finale and it did produce more hits than normal for the GreenJackets. Augusta had 10 hits and average 8.5, but the GreenJackets had trouble plating base runners.

It took a one-out triple by Mickey Hall in the sixth inning for the GreenJackets to finally score a run. Heriberto Guzman struck out after Hall's hit, but Jon de Vries roped a liner to right field to score Hall.

The Sand Gnats took advantage of the sun in the first inning and timely hitting the rest of the game to score their runs. With a runner on first, Antonio Sucre hit a routine grounder to Jackson, who threw it to second for the double play.

The only problem was shortstop Zach Borowiak was looking straight into the sun. Borowiak used his glove as a shield just as the ball flew past him, and both runners eventually scored to give Savannah a 2-0 lead.

The Sand Gnats added a run in the second on a single up the middle by Reggie Fitzpatrick. Jerry Owens' single down the third-base line scored Ja'Mar Clanton for a 4-0 lead. And in the sixth, Jackson's last inning of work, Clanton drove in two with a shot up the middle. The right-handed Jackson (0-4) remains winless after giving up six runs on seven hits in six innings. Jackson struck out seven.

Clint Everts (3-0) gave up seven hits in five innings, but helped Augusta strand nine runners. The GreenJackets stranded 11 total, and left at least one runner on in seven of nine innings.

Already leading 6-1, the Sand Gnats decided to tack on a few more runs in the ninth inning for good measure. Fitzpatrick led off with a double and scored on a double by Kory Casto. Casto scored on a single by Josh Whitesell, who scored on a double by Luis Apodaca. Jason Conlisk added a single to left before reliever Milton Tavarez finally got the third out by striking out Clanton. Tavarez gave up three runs on five hits in two innings.

Borowiak reached on a slow-rolling infield single in the bottom of the ninth for the GreenJackets, but Brandon Moss grounded into a double play to end the game.

Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3219 or kristy.shonka@augustachronicle.com.

Star of the game: Savannah starter Clint Everts threw five shutout innings and struck out six to improve to 3-0.

KEY PLAY: When the GreenJackets stranded the bases loaded in the third inning, it set the tone for the rest of the game. Augusta stranded 11 runners in the game.

TONIGHT'S GAME: 7, GreenJackets at Columbus