Drive Outslugged by GreenJackets on Wednesday
Greenville, SC - The Greenville Drive and Augusta GreenJackets engaged in a back-and-forth slugfest on Wednesday night that featured a combined 26 hits, and the visiting GreenJackets used a late run to come away with a 9-8 victory at Fluor Field.
With the score tied at eight in the eighth, the GreenJackets (3-3) took advantage of a leadoff walk by Miguel Suero (0-1). Nico Giarratano drew the free pass, moved to second base on another walk, and came in when Diego Rincones grounded a single through the left side.
The Drive (3-3) made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth by putting the tying and winning runs on base, but Jesus Tona got a strikeout to end the game and record the save. Solomon Bates (1-0) retired four Drive hitters in relief in the seventh and eighth innings to get the win.
The offense was the story from the very first inning of the night. Augusta jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Rincones plated a run on a fielder's choice, but the Drive answered right back with a run of their own against Blake Rivera. Kervin Suarez dropped down a bunt single, moved to third base on a single by Tyler Esplin, and came in to score on a passed ball.
Jeffry Parra's two-run single off Hunter Haworth in the second put Augusta back ahead 3-1, and the Drive countered with four runs in the next half inning. Cole Brannen drew a bases loaded walk to bring in a run, and Suarez lined a triple into the left-field corner to extend the Drive lead to 5-3.
That lead was short-lived, as Augusta scored five times over the next three innings. Frankie Tostado's two-run homer over the Green Monster headlined a three-run third, while Shane Matheny and Parra added RBI hits in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
The Drive clawed their way back to tie the game by the end of the seventh. Brandon Howlett singled to begin the fifth and later scored on a balk.
Triston Casas led off the seventh inning with a 418-foot home run to right field, the first Drive homer of the season and the first of his young professional career, to trim the GreenJackets lead to 8-7. Howlett followed with a double to left field and came in two batters later on an RBI groundout by Juan Carlos Abreu.
Suarez went 3-5 with three RBI on Wednesday and finished a home run shy of the cycle. Esplin, Howlett and Jordan Wren added two hits apiece.
The Drive will hit the road for the first time in 2019 as they begin a four-game series with the Rome Braves, an Atlanta Braves affiliate, on Thursday night at 7:00. Right-hander Thaddeus Ward (0-0, 3.60) will take the mound for the Drive against Braves right-hander Jasseel De La Cruz (0-1, 6.75).
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