August 16, 2019–8:02 a.m.
Rome blew a one-run lead in the 8th inning on Thursday in their series opener against the Columbia Fireflies at Segra Park and suffered a costly defeat as a result, losing 3-1 and dropping to four games back in the Southern Division race.
Leading Columbia 1-0 with two outs and nobody on in the 8th inning, the Fireflies offense woke up and spoiled what had been one of the most well-pitched games of the season by the Rome Braves staff. A single and a walk put two on and Brian Sharp roped an opposite-field hit into left to tie it up at 1-1. Jose Medina followed and was able to pull a groundball through the left side to score two runs and put Columbia ahead 3-1. The decisive rally came swiftly and deepens the hole the Braves find themselves in with only 17 games remaining in the regular season.
The highlight of the evening was the tremendous work of RHP Ryan Shetter who was making only his second start of the season. The Houston native fired 6 scoreless innings and retired the first 15 hitters he faced, taking a perfect game into the 6th before a leadoff double by Guillermo Grandillo broke it up. He ended up stranding two runners in the frame and departed. Shetter struck out six and allowed only one hit and one walk. He lowered his season ERA to 2.25.
Brendan Venter gave Rome a 1-0 lead in the 4th inning with an RBI single into left, scoring Michael Harris. The Braves left two runners in scoring position in the frame and would not score again in the game. Rome went without a hit or a walk in the final 5 innings.
Justin Dean would finish 2-4 with a stolen base. Jeremy Fernandez was 2-4 with a triple. Venter went 1-3 with an RBI. Michael Harris was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored. He also had a spectacular outfield assist in the 7th to cut down a runner at the plate and complete a double-play.
Rome and Columbia continue their four-game series on Friday evening. First pitch of Game 2 from Segra Park is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Rome will start LHP Dilmer Mejia (7-2, 2.34) while Columbia is expected to start RHP Jose Butto (4-9, 3.63).
Rome Braves (26-27, 56-66) 1 R 5 H 1 E
Columbia Fireflies (24-29, 48-71) 3 R 6 H 0 E
W: Justin Lasko (3-0)
L: Tanner Lawson (3-6)