Jose Yens began the season as the Augusta GreenJackets' cleanup hitter.
But entering Thursday's game against Asheville, Yens had lost his role as an everyday player, had seen his average slip to .228 and, even as a designated hitter, had dropped to No. 8 in the lineup.
Yens delivered in a big way Thursday, however, following David Maroul's game-tying RBI in the bottom of the ninth with the game-winning base hit to give Augusta a 4-3 win over the Tourists at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Yens, who entered the game in a 2-for-14 slump, finished 2-for-4 and collected perhaps his most important hit of the year against Asheville closer Brett Strickland, who had nine saves in 10 chances.
His ripped line drive to left field scored Maroul, who again had a key hit two batters earlier with a single down the left-field line to score Mike Mooney and tie the game.
Maroul, last year's College World Series MVP, entered Thursday batting .407 with runners in scoring position.
The victory distanced second-place Augusta (28-23) from Asheville (27-25) in the Southern Division. Still, the GreenJackets remained 7 games back of first-place Rome. Augusta and Asheville meet for a doubleheader today at Lake Olmstead Stadium, beginning at 5 p.m.
Augusta won for the seventh time in its past nine home games, in front of 2,744 fans and won for the first time when trailing after seven innings.
Strickland took the loss for the Tourists while Osiris Matos - who pitched a perfect ninth in relief of Joe Martinez and David Quinowski - picked up the win.
Martinez allowed three earned runs in six innings; Quinowski pitched two hitless frames.
The win took the decision away from Asheville starter Xavier Cedeno, a 19-year-old who allowed just one earned run in 6w innings.
Cedeno left with a 3-2 lead, thanks to RBI from Jason Van Kooten, Michael Paulk and Nelson Robledo.
Eric Young Jr. went 2-for-2 and stole two bases, increasing his league lead to 36. The Tourists lead the league with 115 steals in 52 games.
Anthony Contreras and Mike Mooney also drove in runs for Augusta.
While Martinez was striking out the first five batters through two perfect innings, Augusta took a 1-0 lead in the first. Ben Copeland drew his team-leading 25th walk and advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. He scored on Contreras' fielder's choice.
Asheville tied it 1-1 in the third after Travis Becktel doubled and scored on Robledo's fielder's choice.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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