Originally created 09/09/06

Augusta completes sweep in playoffs



ROME, Ga. - The Rome Braves had plenty of rocks in their sling Friday night, but in the end they couldn't slay the giant.

Despite having an early three-run lead and their hottest pitcher on the mound, the Braves were eliminated from the South Atlantic League playoffs with a 6-4 loss to the Augusta GreenJackets at State Mutual Stadium.

Augusta reliever Osiris Matos, recently demoted from AA ball, struck out Jamie Romak with the tying runs on base in the ninth for the final out.

A crowd of 3,245 witnessed the defeat, then watched the GreenJackets celebrate their 2-0 series win in the Southern Division's best-of-three Championship Series.

Augusta, which posted a league-best 56-13 record in the second half, advances to next week's SAL Championship Series to face Lakewood.

"I'll be very surprised if Augusta doesn't go on to win the whole thing," Rome manager Randy Ingle said. "That team has no weaknesses."

Mike Mooney's run-scoring single off Jake Stevens broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh, and Matos snuffed out the Braves' comeback bids in the eighth and ninth innings. Rome had the potential tying runs on base in both innings.

Matos also recorded the save in Augusta's 4-2 win in Wednesday's series opener at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Rome starter Adam Stanley, who had posted a 1.77 ERA over his final nine regular-season outings, wasn't effective Friday. He was lifted with one out in the fourth inning after allowing Augusta to rally from an early 3-0 deficit and tie the game at 4.

"We had the right guys in the right position in terms of this game going our way," Ingle said. "With Adam out there, and us getting some big hits early, we were in good shape. But then a couple of things here and there went against us, and it came back to haunt us."

Though the GreenJackets made four errors and the Rome offense compiled eight hits, it still didn't translate into a victory.

"It was a tough way to lose," said Romak, who enjoyed a sensational second half, ranking among the Braves' leaders in homers, RBI and average. "But what can you say? We fought our (butts) off, and just came up a little short."

Though there were plenty of subplots Friday, it basically boiled down to Stanley not extending his string of quality outings, and the Braves not extending their season.

Stanley, who went 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in his seven starts this season, was given a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a two-run single by Jordan Schafer and an RBI single by Larry Williams. But he allowed two runs in the top of the second to let the Jackets back in it.

After Rome rebuilt the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the second on Elvis Andrus' run-scoring hit, Stanley surrendered two runs in the fourth and was lifted with the score tied at 4.

He left with one out and the bases loaded, though Stevens came on and put out that fire by getting two strikeouts in a row. It stayed tied until the seventh, when run-scoring hits by Mooney and Pablo Sandoval off Stevens gave Augusta the lead for good. Sandoval finished with four hits.