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ROME BRAVES: Back to work in the second half, Braves looking for a spark

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And a win or two couldn’t hurt either.

Since clinching the South Atlantic League first half Southern Division championship on June 13, Rome has battled a slump that included the minor league team going winless in its last six games prior to Friday night’s contest in Augusta.

That stretch includes five losses and a rare tie game that closed out the first half on Sunday after storms and field conditions forced Rome and Lexington to abruptly end their matchup at State Mutual Stadium after 10 innings.

The Braves kicked off the second half of the season on the road Thursday with the first of three games against the GreenJackets. Rome lost 6-1 after a rain delay derailed pitcher Oldavi Javier’s start after the first inning.

Drew Lugbauer hit his team-leading eighth home run in the second to give the Braves a 1-0 advantage in the top of the second, but rain moved in soon after the start of the bottom of the frame and halted the game for nearly an hour and a half.

With Javier’s night over, lefty Hayden Deal was sent out to take over. But Augusta got a shot of offense and scored four runs on five hits, including two home runs, over the next four innings.

Rome manager Rocket Wheeler was adamant that the team wasn’t going to get complacent prior to the end of the first half.

“We know what’s under our belt and now we’re going to go out and try to win the second half,” Wheeler said. “That’s our game plan, and we’ll stick to it.”

First baseman Austin Bush, who was one of the players finding his stride in the days leading up to the end of the first half, said he thought the first half provided a blueprint for the team.

“We’ve been rolling, and it’s good to finish the first half knowing that we have a playoff spot,” Bush said last week. “Now we can go into the second half with the mindset that we can take what we did in the first half and keep following that path.”

Sunday’s game, the first of three against Greenville in a short homestand, is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.