Game Story: Rome at Hickory September 5

The Rome (Ga.) Braves muscled two home runs to account for all their runs in a 5-1 win over the Hickory Crawdads Saturday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

With the win, the visiting Braves (58-80 overall, 27-41 second half) kept pace with the Lexington (Ky.) Legends for the battle to stay out of the cellar in the overall standings in the Southern Division. Rome is looking to avoid a second-straight, last-place finish, which would also be the fifth such finish in eight seasons.

Hickory dropped to 79-57 overall, 35-33 in the second half. The Crawdads are looking to the final two games of the series to pick up their 80th win for the second straight season. Hickory last had back-to-back 80 win seasons from 2002 to 2004.

What Happened?

The Braves scored all the runs it would need in the fourth when Tanner Murphy cranked a three-run shot (7) in the fourth. Matt Tellor added the other two runs in the sixth with a blast to right, his fifth of the season.

The Crawdads scored their only run of the game in the sixth with Edwin Garcia tripled and scored on Jose Trevino’s grounder to third.

Trevor Belicek picked up the win (1-0) for Rome with Austin Pettibone talking the loss (3-7).

The Good:

Jeffrey Springs: The Texas Rangers 30th-round pick this past June out of Appalachian State struck out three over two perfect innings of relief. In what was his first home game, the left-hander showed a biting curve that missed six bats, along with a 90-91 mph fastball.

Chris Dula: Gave up two hits during his lone inning of the game in the seven, but arguably had his best stuff of the season. He started the inning by striking out Erison Mendez with the final pitch of the at-bat being a 97-mph fastball that was low and away to the right-hander. He gave up back-to-back hits – the first an infield hit by Stephen Gaylor to short before Luis Valenzeula smacked a high slider for a single. Dula got out of the inning with a 95-mph sinker that Jordan Edgerton beat into an around-the-horn double play.

Eric Jenkins:  Went 3-for-4 for and showed the promise he has to be a legitimate leadoff hitter. He started the first with a bunt up the third-base line that gave Edgerton no chance to make a play. In the fifth, the left-handed hitter turned on fastball for a sharp, ground-ball single to right. In the eighth, it was a slider the Jenkins nailed hard to right. Jenkins has reached base five times in nine trips over the two games he’s played the series. He’s shown for now the ability to catch up to fastballs but stay back on secondary pitches.

Jairo Beras: Continued a strong second half (308/.349/.467) with two hits and a walk. He laid off a couple of close breaking pitches to get the base-on-balls in the second. A slider in was rapped hard for a double to left in the fourth, as was an inside fastball in the sixth. The lone out came in the eighth when he lined a fastball to second.

Dylan Moore: Singled in the third and walked in the fifth to go with a hit in his Crawdad debut on Friday.

The Not-So-Good:

Eric Jenkins: As talented a hitter as he’s shown in two games, several aspects of his game need work, especially in the outfield. After misreading two fly balls on Thursday, he nearly played a fly to left into a hit in the second. Braxton Davidson hit a soft liner that sent Jenkins back a couple of steps before he reversed course to make a running catch in shallow left. He cost the Crawdads a run on the eighth when he stayed at third during a 1-6-3 double play. His athletic talent is there, but how well can he pick up some of the technical side of the game?

Baserunning: Jenkins gaffe aside, the Crawdads had a couple of other blunders on the base paths. Manager Corey Ragsdale was overly aggressive in sending Beras on Moore’s third-inning single. Right fielder Braxton Davidson’s throw easily beat Moore to the plate, as he was tagged by the catcher Murphy before he got to the batter’s box… Beras was caught stealing in the sixth as he broke for second with pitcher Trevor Belicek still in the stretch.  Belicek calmly stepped off the rubber and threw to second for the easy out.

Austin Pettibone: Had a decent outing, save the two homers. Stayed almost exclusively with a fastball (90-91) and slider with a rare change tossed in.  He need only 24 pitches to get through three innings and with any luck would’ve been out of the fourth with little trouble. With two outs and a runner at first, Pettibone’s 0-2 slider was chopped slowly up the line by Luke Dykstra, who beat out the play at third. He then battled Murphy for eight pitches before Murphy turned a 91-mph pitch into a liner the cleared the fence in the leftfield corner. Murphy was able to pick up both fastball and slider, but never saw a change. In the sixth, Tellor whipped a flat slider of the wall in right-center .

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