Rome Edges Drive, 5-4, in Series Finale
GREENVILLE, S.C. - The Greenville Drive (7-9) carried a 4-2 lead in to the eighth inning but a three-run home run by Darling Florentino lifted the Rome Braves (6-10) to a 5-4 victory to avoid the sweep on Saturday night at Fluor Field.
The Drive broke the game open in the bottom of the first. Kole Cottam hit a two-run home run to left, his first homer of the season, scoring Jordan Wren and giving the home team a 2-0 lead.
Rome scored its first run of the series in the second inning, breaking a 19-inning scoreless streak by Drive pitching. A one-out double by Brendan Venter scored Logan Brown from first and cut the lead to 2-1.
Greenville answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Brandon Howlett doubled to right with one out and two batters later Grant Williams tripled in to the right-field corner, scoring Howlett, but was thrown out trying to stretch in to a homer to end the inning.
The Drive added to the lead in the fourth on a solo home run by Devlin Granberg, his first of the season, making it a 4-1 advantage.
Rome got one back in the sixth, before taking the lead with the three-run eighth. In the sixth, Trey Harris reached on a single, moved to second on a passed ball and went to third on an error, before coming home on a balk to make it a 4-2 game. In the eighth, back-to-back two-out single put two aboard for Florentino, who hit his first home run of the season to put the Braves in front, 5-4.
The Drive threatened in each of their final two at-bats, putting two runners aboard in each frame but were unable to capitalize.
Claudio Custodio (1-0) earned the win, throwing 2.0 scoreless innings in relief with a pair of strikeouts. Hunter Haworth (0-2) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in 3.0 innings of work with three strikeouts. Kurt Hoekstra recorded his first save of the season for Rome, throwing a scoreless ninth inning.
Drive starter Alex Scherff turned in another solid home performance, allowing just a lone run on three hits with three strikeouts in a no-decision. At the plate, Cottam went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two RBI and a run.
The Drive have an off day on Sunday, before opening play in Hagerstown on Monday for the first of a three-game series. Greenville sends righty Thaddeus Ward (0-0, 3.77 ERA) to the hill, while the Suns counter with lefty Tim Cate (0-1, 1.76 ERA).
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