August 18, 2019–11:52 p.m.
Nothing came easy for the Rome Braves at Segra Park this season, including Sunday evening’s 3-2 win over Columbia in the series finale. With two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th, a groundball to third appeared as if it would end the game but the throw to first sailed way wide, allowing two runs to score and putting the tying run at third base. Gabriel Noguera was unfazed and struck out Brian Sharp on three pitches, giving Rome a series split with the Fireflies.
The victory cuts Rome’s deficit in the Southern Division to four games with 14 contests remaining in the regular season.
The Braves got their only run-scoring rally of the day in the 2nd inning and it was the bottom of their batting order that was the catalyst for it. Jeremy Fernandez took a four-pitch walk. Braulio Vasquez followed by yanking a double down the left-field line, scoring a run. After an infield hit from Carlos Paraguate, Justin Dean singled through the right side on a groundball to knock in Vasquez and make it 2-0. An RBI groundout from Michael Harris put the Braves up 3-0 and gave starter LHP Mitch Stallings some cushion.
Making his debut appearance, Stallings pitched out of some tough jams and kept Columbia off the scoreboard. He stranded the bases loaded in the 1st and pitched around two hits in the 4thinning. He departed after 5 frames, having allowed no runs and five hits. He struck out two and walked two.
Rome reliever RHP Victor Vodnik took over and was dominant across 3 shutout innings. He struck out four batters and surrendered just one hit and one walk.
Vodnik gave way to Noguera in the 9th inning. With Rome still leading 3-0 Noguera issued back-to-back walks, bringing the tying run to the plate. The Venezuelan lefty then struck out Walter Rasquin. Nick Conti stepped in and hit the routine grounder which would lead to a throwing error and two runs. Noguera pitched around the damage to strike out Sharp and earn his first save of the season.
Rome ends the series with a split and completes the road trip with three wins in seven games.
Dean went 3-5 with an RBI and a stolen base, his 42nd steal of the season. Vasquez was 2-4 with a double and an RBI. Cullen was 1-4 with a walk.
Rome will enjoy an off-day on Monday and begin a six-game homestand Tuesday evening. The Braves face Kannapolis in a three-game series Tuesday-Thursday and then welcome Columbia to town for a three-game set beginning on Friday.
First pitch of Game 1 against Kannapolis is Tuesday at 7 pm from State Mutual Stadium.
Rome Braves (28-28, 58-67) 3 R 9 H 1 E
Columbia Fireflies (25-31, 49-73) 2 R 6 H 1 E
W: Mitch Stallings (1-0)
L: Colin Holderman (3-2)
S: Gabriel Noguera (1)