Drive Rally to Beat Braves, 5-3
Greenville, SC - The Greenville Drive doubled their hit total for the entire game and scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to rally past the Rome Braves. The victory improved the Drive to 16-15 and 5.5 games behind the Braves who fell to 21-9.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Mark Wagner hit a two-run double off Braves reliever Nelson Payano (1-2) that scored Chris Turner and Tony Granadillo. After walking Logan Sorensen, Payano's night was over. The results were not any different for reliever Jose Santiago as he gave up a double to Christian Lara, the first batter he faced, plating Wagner and Sorensen.
The Braves got on the board first in the top of the fourth when Kala Ka'aihue singled home Max Ramirez. However, the Drive would answer back in the bottom of the fifth when Matt Mercurio, who had reached with a double, scored three batters later on Bubba Bell's groundout.
Rome would regain the lead in the top half of the sixth when Ka'aihue blasted his first of two home runs on the evening. Ka'aihue's second homer came in the top of the ninth off of Drive closer Blake Maxwell, who earned his fourth save of the season.
Starting pitcher Chris Jones tossed 5.0 innings allowing one run on six hits, while striking out six in earning a no-decision. Jones was looking to start the season a perfect three-for-three in his starts.
Despite allowing Ka'aihue's homer to break a 1-1 tie, Kyle Fernandes picked up his first win of the season, pitching 3.0 innings allowing one run on two hits and striking out four.
The Drive and Braves square off in the series finale Tuesday night at West End Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM with Clay Buchholz taking the hill for Greenville against Chris Vines of Rome. Buchholz will be making his first start since April 18 as he comes off the disabled list from a strained oblique.
NOTES: Kala Ka'aihue went 3-for-4 knocking in all three runs for Rome...The 6 thru 9 batters of the Drive hit a combined 4-for-13, accounting for 4 of the Drive's 5 runs...Rome first base coach Bobby Moore was ejected in the top of the third for disputing a call at first base...Brandon Monk went 3-for-4 for the Braves...Jay Johnson went 0-for-3 in his first game back with the Drive after appearing in 8 games for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs...Attendance was 3610
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