Originally created 08/08/06

Velez does it all for GreenJackets



The Augusta GreenJackets maintained their double-digit lead in the Southern Division by splitting a doubleheader with the Lake County Captains on Monday at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Julian Benavidez drove in the game-tying and game-winning runs in a 4-3 extra-inning win in Game 1, but Augusta couldn't score against Captains starter Jeff Stevens in a 1-0 loss in the nightcap.

The GreenJackets (34-10, 73-41 overall) are 10 games ahead of Greenville in the Southern Division with 26 games left in the second half.

They meet Lake County (24-18, 53-59), second place in the Northern Division, again tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Augusta middle infielder Eugenio Velez continued to fill up his stat sheet this season, going 4-for-6 with four stolen bases and an RBI on the day.

He finished the day with a .309 average, moving him into the South Atlantic League lead. His RBI triple in the opener gave him 14 triples this year, also the league's best.

Benavidez drove him in twice in the opener, scheduled for seven innings, providing the game-tying sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and the walk-off single in the eighth.

The GreenJackets were shut out for the first time since June 14 in the second game, just their fourth loss in 19 games.

Stevens gave up two early hits, walked one and struck out seven in six innings to give Lake County its seventh win in the past 11 games.

In the first game, Velez went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three stolen bases, and he scored two runs on clutch RBI from Benavidez, who returned to Augusta in late July.

Ben Copeland went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple and Antoan Richardson went 2-for-3 for Augusta, which came back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-1.

Lake County starter Albert Vargas failed to win for the 10th start in a row, while Augusta's comeback kept starter Ronnie Ray from losing for the first time in his past nine starts.

David Quinowski picked up the win in relief.

In the nightcap, Augusta never got anything going against Stevens.

Lake County catcher Max Ramirez - traded from the Braves organization to the Indians for big-league closer Bob Wickman - doubled in the fourth and scored on Mike Conroy's hit for a 1-0 lead.

In his first start for Augusta, Kelvin Pichardo allowed only one run on four hits in four innings but took the loss.

Matt Davis pitched a perfect seventh for the Captains, earning his league-leading 25th save in 31 chances.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.