July 6, 2019–1:15 a.m.
Rome starter RHP Jose Olague delivered the best pitching performance of the 2019 season for the Braves on Friday night in a 5-1 win over Asheville. Clearing 9 innings on just 86 pitches, Olague fell one out shy of a complete game shutout when an unearned run crossed the plate.
Friday’s gem continued what has been a strong year for the young right-hander. Olague lowered his ERA to 3.28 and in the process allowed Rome to even their series with Asheville.
Following a rain delay that lasted just over an hour, the Braves offense got going in a hurry against Tourists starter RHP Shelby Lackey. Justin Dean was hit by a pitch and Greg Cullen reached on a single. Both scored on a line drive triple into the right-field corner by Braden Shewmake. Shea Langeliers brought in another run on an RBI groundout and Rome led 3-0 in the 1st inning.
Another Braves run crossed in the 2nd thanks to a delayed double steal. With Jose Bermudez at third and Dean at first, Dean took off. Once the throw was made to second base Bermudez was able to score easily from third and make it 4-0 in favor of Rome.
The Braves got their final run in the 6th on an RBI single from Dean up the middle against a drawn-in infield. The hit scored Bermudez and put Rome comfortably ahead at 5-0.
Olague kept the Asheville lineup off balance all night and flirted with history in the 9th inning. With his pitch count low, he took the mound for the final frame but a throwing error allowed the leadoff hitter to reach second base. A sacrifice bunt and a groundout brought in the unearned run and made it 5-1. Dean ended the game by making a spectacular catch in deep center field to take away an extra-base hit from Terrin Vavra.
Olague went 9 innings, allowing only two hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter or surrender an earned run. He fell one out shy of becoming only the second pitcher in Rome franchise history to throw a 9 inning shutout, the other being Bryse Wilson who accomplished the feat against West Virginia on July 8th, 2017 at State Mutual Stadium.
Through the first two games and 18 innings of the series, the Rome pitching staff has allowed zero earned runs against the Tourists.
Shewmake went 3-5 with a triple and two RBI. Dean was 2-4 with an RBI, two stolen bases and was hit by a pitch. Bermudez was 1-3 with two steals and a walk.
Dean extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Rome and Asheville continue their four-game series on Saturday evening. First pitch of Game 3 from State Mutual Stadium is scheduled for 6 pm. Rome will start RHP Odalvi Javier (2-5, 3.96) while Asheville counters with LHP Colten Schmidt (2-4, 2.43).
Rome Braves (9-7, 39-46): 5 R 9 H 1 E
Asheville Tourists (7-9, 36-50): 1 R 2 H 1 E
W: Jose Olague (7-6)
L: Shelby Lackey (3-8)
Time: 2:19 (1:01 delay)