The Rome Braves spent the first half of their current homestand relying on dominant pitching to make up for a lack of offense.
They tried to flip the script on Saturday night, and the results were less than perfect.
After scoring the first five runs of the game, the Delmarva Shorebirds held off a small Braves rally and took an 8-4 win over Rome at State Mutual Stadium.
It is the most runs Rome has allowed in its last nine games.
“I think a game like tonight just goes and proves that these guys are human,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said. “We have had superb pitching all week, so at some point it’s going to break against you. I liked a lot of what I saw tonight, just was not enough.”
Marcus Mooney led the Braves with three hits and a run scored, while Lucas Herbert had a two-run double in the sixth inning. Rome finished with 10 or more hits for the third time this week, but only recorded one extra-base hit.
It was a tough night for starter Bryse Wilson, who had two consecutive wins and allowed only one earned run in his past 14 innings pitched.
Saturday was different, as he never garnered control and allowed seven hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Three singles and a double helped Delmarva record three early runs in the second and third, and Preston Palmeiro hit a solo home run in the sixth inning.
Wilson finished with seven strikeouts, but left the ball in for Shorebird hitters too many times.
“Wilson has just been outstanding the last month or so, but some days you aren’t going to be sharp,” Ingle said. “He left a couple of balls high in the zone, and they didn’t miss them.”
Rome’s first runs came in the sixth, when it loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a pair of singles and a fielder’s choice in which Randy Ventura escaped a run down.
Herbert brought in two runs on his one-out double, and Isranel Wilson scored a third run off a Kevin Josephina sacrifice fly, narrowly dodging the catcher’s tag.
But with Rome’s bullpen in play, Delmarva recorded three more singles in the seventh and pushed the lead to 7-3. It was too much for a Braves team that has only scored more than five runs twice this month.
While the offense came up short, Ingle was still pleased with the team finding good at-bats while battling large deficits.
“One thing we’ve done all year is be able to come back,” Ingle said. “Doesn’t matter what lead it is, we are going to keep swinging and doing what we can to produce runs. They never quit and that’s nothing new with this club.”
The loss pushes Rome back down to 11-15 in the second half and seven games behind Charleston for first place in the SAL Southern division.
It’s a far different situation from June, when the Braves battled for the first half crown until the final weekend series.
“We just need to keep improving every day, do what we have been doing all season,” Ingle said. “I saw us playing the game the right way tonight, and that’s all you can ask for.”
The Rome Braves play the Shorebirds again today at 2 p.m.