August 1, 2019–7:20 a.m.
Rome was unable to hold a pair of leads and dropped the opening game of their three-game series 5-4 to Hagerstown on Wednesday evening. Rome got early homers from Justin Dean and Griffin Benson and solid relief work from lefty Jake Higginbotham in the loss.
The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a leadoff home run from Dean out to center field. The homer was his fifth of the season.
Hagerstown answered with a rally against Rome starter RHP Alan Rangel and chased him after 1 inning and two runs. Rangel was forced to throw 39 pitches in the frame in order to record three outs and did not return for the 2ndinning.
Trailing 2-1 in the Top of the 2nd, Rome took the lead back on Benson’s two-run homer to center, giving the visitors a 3-2 advantage.
Higginbotham steadied the game for the Braves, firing a season-high 4 innings out of the bullpen. He did not allow a run and surrendered only three hits while striking out three and issuing no walks.
The scoring resumed in the 7th when Sun’s slugger Jacob Rhinesmith hit a two-run double off the wall in right to put Hagerstown back on top 4-3.
Down to their final strike with runners on the corners in the 9th inning, Dean came through once again, lifting a single into center to tie the game 4-4. Rome was unable to retake the lead however and stranded two in the inning. The Suns walked it off in the bottom of the 9th on a Drew Mendoza RBI single.
The Rome lineup was 1-12 with runners in scoring position in the game.
Dean finished the evening 3-4 with a homer, a walk, a stolen base, and two RBI. Benson was 1-4 with a homer and two RBI. Jeremy Fernandez was 2-4 with a run scored.
Rome and Hagerstown continue their three-game series Thursday night at Municipal Stadium. First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 7:05 pm.
Rome Braves (19-20, 49-59): 4 R 9 H 2 E
Hagerstown Suns (19-19, 49-59): 5 R 11 H 2 E
W: Ryan Williamson (3-0)
L: Gabriel Noguera (4-5)