August 2, 2019–7:38 a.m.
The Rome Braves welcomed back two of their best pitchers in RHP Jose Olague and RHP Victor Vodnik, and rode them to a 5-3 victory over Hagerstown on Thursday evening, ending their three-game losing skid and snapping the Suns’ seven-game winning streak in a complete performance at Municipal Stadium.
Rome’s offense wasn’t elite with runners in scoring position, but it was better in Game 2 of the series than it had been in the opener. It was the lineup’s ability to grind out long at-bats that made a huge difference in grinding down the Hagerstown staff.
Rome opened the scoring with a solo homer from slugger Griffin Benson in the 2nd inning, a 403-foot shot that cleared the right-field wall with plenty left to spare. It was Benson’s second homer of the series and 12th of the season.
In the 3rd the Braves began to wear down Suns starter RHP Reid Schaller. Braulio Vasquez opened the frame with a walk and eventually scored on a double-play grounder. In the 4th Greg Cullen took a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI single from Ricardo Rodriguez. In the 5th it was Justin Dean who worked a free pass and scored on an RBI knock from Braden Shewmake. In three consecutive innings, Schaller walked the leadoff hitter and each time he paid for it with a run.
Olague left in the 6th shortly after Jackson Cluff hit a solo homer to cut Rome’s lead to 4-3. Righty relievers Jose Montilla and Vodnik would make sure it stood up. Montilla inherited the tying run but stranded it, then worked a scoreless 7th. Vodnik, who was activated shortly before first pitch, threw 2 shutout innings of relief to earn the save. It was his first appearance since June 24th.
Rome added a big insurance run in the top of the 9th inning thanks to a Jeremy Fernandez triple and a Vasquez sacrifice fly to go up 5-3, giving Vodnik more wiggle room for the Bottom of the 9th. The Suns brought the tying run to the plate but Vodnik slammed the door the secure the win.
Olague went 5.1 innings to earn his 9th victory of the season. He allowed three runs on four hits while striking out three and walking two. It was his first start since July 21st.
Dean went 2-4 with a double and a walk, giving him five hits in the series. He’s reached base seven times in ten plate appearances across the two games and raised his OPS to .815 on the season. Benson was 1-4 with a homer, Fernandez 1-4 with a triple. Shewmake went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Rome and Hagerstown conclude their three-game series Friday night at Municipal Stadium. First pitch of Game 3 is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Rome will start RHP William Woods (0-3, 3.81) while the Suns start RHP Joan Adon (9-3, 4.27).
Rome Braves (20-20, 50-59): 5 R 6 H 0 E
Hagerstown Suns (19-20, 49-60): 3 R 5 H 0 E
W: Jose Olague (9-6)
L: Reid Schaller (1-2)
S: Victor Vodnik (2)