August 24, 2019
Kevin Karel –
The Rome Braves lost a three run lead in the 9th inning on Friday night and in the process lost the chance to make up ground in the division race as Columbia shocked the home team with a five run rally to win 7-5. The defeat keeps Rome four games back of Asheville with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
Sporting big leaguers Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley in their lineup, Rome was in control all night and took a 5-2 lead into the 9th inning before things went sideways on the bullpen. Chase Chambers hit a double off reliever RHP Victor Vodnik to open the frame. A walk and a soft single followed. With the bases-loaded Vodnik hit Walter Rasquin with a pitch, making it 5-3. Phil Capra then singled through the left side to tie the game at 5-5. Nick Conti would deliver the winning hit, a two run triple off LHP Gabriel Noguera to make it 7-5. The first five batters in the Top of the 9th inning all reached base and all eventually scored. It was a difficult loss to swallow for Rome, especially after many positive developments earlier in the night.
The Braves got the lead in the 4th inning with four runs on four hits. Michael Harris had an RBI single which scored Bryce Ball and Brendan Venter followed with a two run double to the wall in left field. Harris later came in on a wild pitch and put Rome ahead 4-0.
Still leading 4-2 the Braves offense added another tally in the 6th inning on a solo homerun out to left center field off the bat of Justin Dean. It was his ninth homer of the season and put Rome up 5-2. That’s where the margin stayed until Columbia rallied for the win in the 9th inning.
Cullen enjoyed one of his best games of the season, going 4-5 on the night with a run scored. Swanson was 1-3 with a walk and exited after the 7th inning. He and Riley are expected to be in the Rome lineup again on Saturday.
Shea Langeliers was 2-4 with a double, walk and a run scored. Dean was 1-5 with a homer. Ball went 2-5 and Venter was 2-4 with a double and two RBI.
RHP Alan Rangel made the start and received a no-decision. He threw 5 innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He struck out four and did not issue a walk.
Rome and Columbia continue their three game series on Saturday evening at State Mutual Stadium. First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 6 pm. Rome is expected to start LHP Mitch Stallings (1-0, 0.00) while Columbia starts RHP Colin Holderman (3-2, 3.99).
Rome Braves (30-30, 60-69) 5 R 15 H 2 E
Columbia Fireflies (27-33, 51-75) 7 R 11 H 1 E
W: Willy Taveras (6-11)
L: Victor Vodnik (1-2)
S: Allan Winans (10)