Jackets put it in high gear

The opponent doesn't seem to matter. The Augusta GreenJackets are letting almost nobody cross home plate.

Armed with the most dominant pitching staff in the minor leagues, Augusta continued to steamroll through the South Atlantic League on Thursday night.

Texas right-hander Adam Cowart pitched six shutout innings and Augusta's offense gave him plenty of run support in the GreenJackets' 8-1 rout of the Greenville Drive in front of 3,594 fans at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Greenville got a meaningless ninth-inning run to ruin the GreenJackets' bid for their ninth shutout in 21 games. Still, Augusta's team ERA fell to 1.65.

First-place Augusta (18-3) and Greenville (9-12), which is 3-14 against the GreenJackets the past two seasons, meet for Game 2 of the four-game series tonight.

Cowart continued his dominance as a professional, moving to 15-1 with a 0.95 ERA in 20 career starts. He leads the minor leagues with five wins (in five starts) and lowered his season ERA to 0.60 while extending his scoreless streak to 21 innings.

Led at the plate by Henry Gutierrez (3-for-5), Matt Weston (2-for-4, three RBI) and Dayton Buller (3-for-5), Augusta won its fourth game in a row.

The team has outscored its opponents 28-2 in the span and 116-39 this season.

Augusta's staff went into the ninth with a streak of 35 innings without an earned run until Argenis Diaz tripled and scored on Mike Chambers' single off Thomas King.

The GreenJackets touched Greenville starter Travis Beazley for two runs on three consecutive hits to lead off the second. Brett Pill and Gutierrez singled and scored on Weston's two-RBI double to deep center for a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth, Gutierrez singled again and scored on Buller's RBI groundout for a 3-0 edge.

Augusta got four more runs on six hits in the fifth to go up 7-0.

Ryan Rohlinger singled and scored on Bobby Felmy's RBI double to right. Weston and Buller followed with RBI singles to end Beazley's night. Mike McBryde then ripped an RBI double down the left-field line off reliever Miguel Socolovich. Pill's RBI single in the sixth made it 8-0.

NOTES: Outfielder Joey Dyche (.288) has been called up to Class A advanced San Jose of the California League, where former GreenJacket Ben Copeland is injured. ... Tonight is Turn Back the Clock Night at Lake Olmstead Stadium, celebrating 20 seasons since minor league baseball returned to Augusta. Discounted food and drinks, as well as music from the '80s, will be featured.

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