AUGUSTA, GA – The Savannah Sand Gnats moved one win from clinching the first half championship with a 4-1 win Thursday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta. The Gnats (41-26) are now two games up on the Augusta GreenJackets (39-28) with three games remaining in this series and in the half.
The Gnats took a 1-0 lead two batters into the game when DH Pedro Zapata lined a single into center field and came home on 1B Michael Fisher's RBI double into the left-center field gap.
Augusta tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth, but CF Juan Lagares threw out a runner at the plate to end the inning and keep the game even.
The Gnats took advantage of sloppy Augusta defense in the middle innings to take the lead. RF Cesar Puello scored the go-ahead run in the fifth on an Augusta throwing error, the second GreenJackets miscue in the inning. Savannah made it 3-1 in the sixth with more help. SS Wilmer Flores singled into center and advanced to second on a passed ball, one of three on the night charged to GreenJackets' catcher Tommy Joseph. Flores moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Lagares' sacrifice fly to right-center.
Savannah added an insurance run in the ninth on a Zapata RBI single. The red-hot Zapata was 2-4 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.
Gnats starter Armando Rodriguez held the GreenJackets to one run in 6.1 innings to improve to 5-4. Rodriguez departed with the tying runs on base, at first and third, with one out in the seventh inning, but reliever Erik Turgeon struck out two GreenJackets to end the threat. Turgeon then tossed a 1-2-3 eighth before Michael Powers worked around a leadoff single in the ninth, for his eighth save in eight chances this year.