Exhausted Augusta GreenJackets catcher Johnny Monell sat slumped in a clubhouse couch after Wednesdays 7-2 victory over the Charleston RiverDogs.
The rare morning game, which started at 10:40 a.m., came as the blazing sun settled into Lake Olmstead Stadium and rocketed the on-field temperature well over 90 degrees. Monell, who took a foul tip to the jaw and a bat to the ear during the game, considered the heat just an insult to injury.
It was unbelievably hot, Monell said. At one point I reached down to adjust my shin pads, and I had to take my hand away because it was getting burned. It reminded me of my days in the Arizona (Rookie) League.
Monell caught all nine innings, including 5-plus innings from starter Eric Surkamp, who took a no-hitter into the fifth. The strong start, coupled with solo home runs from Charlie Culberson, Josh Mazzola and Dom Duggan, was enough to knock off the top team in the South Atlantic Leagues Southern Division for the second consecutive game.
The GreenJackets, fifth in the division, took two out of three from the RiverDogs and seven of 11 in the first-half season series.
I dont think theres any team in the league that can over match us right now, GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer said. We had a slow start, but were very competitive. Our starting pitching has been solid, and weve put guys in the line up and theyve picked up the slack.
Culberson started the scoring with a solo homer off the left field foul pole on the GreenJackets first at-bat for a 1-0 lead.
Mazzola sparked a five-run third inning with his solo homer over the left-field wall.
Duggans homer, an inside-the-park job, bounced off the top of the left-field wall and back into play to lead off the bottom of the eighth.
I actually lost sight of it, so I thought it was gone, Duggan said. I started jogging around second, then I found it on the warning track bouncing toward center.
Duggan still beat the throw to the plate for a 7-2 lead. GreenJackets reliever Shane Kaufman shut out Charleston on one hit over the final three innings to seal the victory.