Originally created 08/11/05

GreenJackets reel in Catfish



Marcus Sanders walked out of the Augusta GreenJackets' clubhouse Wednesday and toward the still falling rain at Lake Olmstead Stadium. He had only one word to sum up his team's win: "Stud."

Sanders was complimenting teammate Julian Benavidez, who for the second game in a row drove in the winning run in the GreenJackets' final at bat. On Tuesday, the hit came in the bottom of the ninth inning, while on Wednesday, it was the bottom of the fifth.

Both times Benavidez singled with the bases loaded and Wednesday's hit helped the GreenJackets to a 5-3 win against the Columbus Catfish.

A steady rain fell during most of the 2 hour, 15 minute game, and eventually led the game to be called due to poor field conditions after Columbus (22-21) scored one run in the top of the sixth inning.

The tough weather conditions plagued Columbus starter Dimas Reina, who walked eight in four innings; Augusta (23-21) starter Caleb Salankey, who walked six in 3 2/3; and Augusta reliever Adam Gardner, who walked the leadoff man in both of the full innings he worked.

"It's hard to keep focused when it's raining outside," said Gardner, who improved to 3-1 in relief. "But I wasn't making pitches. I was walking guys and leaving the ball up, and bad stuff happens when you start doing that."

Bad stuff like putting guys at second and third with no outs in the sixth inning.

Gabriel Gutierrez singled in one of the runners off Gardner, but the left-hander recovered to strike out the next three batters in order to preserve Augusta's two-run lead. Augusta's staff pulled the tarp after the third strikeout and after a 30-minute delay, the umpires declared the game over.

Salankey walked a season-high six batters in 3 2/3, but also struck out six and only allowed one hit.

"You're kind of thinking, What's going on? What am I doing?" Salankey said. "Then you start to think too much, and you're trying to tinker with stuff out there. It usually doesn't go well when you're thinking too much."

That might have been Benavidez's problem when he came up with bases loaded in the first inning.

The right-handed hitter drilled the first pitch he saw Tuesday night for the game-winning single, but on Wednesday he said he "pulled off a little bit and missed a good pitch to hit."

In the fifth inning when he came up with the bases loaded, he worked a two ball, two strike count before lining his single to left field.

"I wanted to be able to drive the ball," he said, "and I got a good pitch down the middle."

Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3216 or kristy.shonka@augustachronicle.com.



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