Savannah Sand Gnats pinch-hitter Blake Forsythe hit a run-scoring double in the bottom of the 8th inning, to break a 2-2 tie and bring home C Albert Cordero with the winning run. The 3-2 Sand Gnats’ victory over the Augusta Green Jackets evened the best-of-three series at one game apiece.
The Sand Gnats were able to take advantage of a very special guest being “in town” for a rehab assignment, when they named N.Y. Met ace, LHP Johan Santana their starting pitcher for the game. Santana hurled 3 innings, allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 K. He was replaced for the 4th inning by 2011 SAL ERA leader, RHP Taylor Whitenton. Whitenton pitched solidly for 3.1 IP, giving up 1 run on 3 hits, 2 BB’s, while striking out 6. LHP Adam Kolarek relieved Whitenton in the 7th, getting the final two outs, then pitched a scoreless 8th, to get the win. LHP Hamilton Bennett came on to pitch a perfect 9th to earn the save.
Augusta starter RHP Shawn Sanford, pitched well but really hurt himself by making two costly throwing errors. His line for the game: 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 3 K’s. He was replaced by LHP Mario Rodriguez who pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th innings. LHP Phil McCormick started the 8th inning but pitched to only two batters, but earned the loss. He retired the first hitter he faced, but gave up the single to Cordero to start the game winning rally. RHP Jose Valdez came on and promptly surrendered the game winning hit with Forsythe’s RBI double.
The scoring began as Augusta broke the ice in the top of the 2nd inning. With one out, RF Devin Harris drew a walk. LF Michael Mergenthaler reached first on an error when 2B Juan Nieves threw the ball away at first. Harris advancing to 3rd. C Jeff Arnold then singled to score Devin Harris. Green Jackets: 1-0.
Savannah answered back to tie the score in the bottom of the 4th when 1B Joe Bonfe drew a one-out walk. 3B Aderlin Rodriguez hit a come-backer to Sanford who threw the ball away allowing Bonfe to move to third. A sacrifice fly to CF by Juan Nieves brought home the tying run. Tie score: 1-1.
CF Darrell Ceciliani opened the bottom of the fifth with a line drive single to CF. The next batter, SS Wilfredo Tovar laid down a sacrifice bunt which was fielded by Sanford, who threw the ball away at first again, this time down the RF line, allowing Ceciliani to come all the way around to score, making it Sand Gnats: 2-1.
Augusta came back to tie the score in the top of the 7th. With one out, Jeff Arnold drew a walk. 2B Carlos Willoughby singled to RF, with Arnold going to third. SS Bobby Haney singled to LF to bring in Arnold with the tying run, and chase Whitenton.
Savannah broke the deadlock in the bottom of the 8th inning when with one out, Albert Cordero singled to LF. Blake Forsythe was brought in to pinch hit for 2B Juan Carlos Gamboa. Augusta countered with a pitching change and brought in Jose Valdez. The move worked as Valdez induced Forsythe to hit a foul pop-up, but in what was the turning point of the game, the ball was dropped by 1B Ben Thomas. Oops. The error for “prolonging the time at-bat” proved costly as Forsythe then ripped a double to LF to bring home Cordero with the game-winner.
The deciding Game Three of the best-of-three series will be in Savannah at Historic Grayson Stadium on Saturday Night. Game time is 6:05 pm.
Probable pitchers: for Augusta RHP Taylor Rogers, while the Gnats send RHP Erik Goeddel to the hill.