But on Tuesday night, that hope left State Mutual Stadium pretty quickly.
The Charleston RiverDogs turned plethora of singles into seven runs in the second inning and cruised to an 11-3 victory that evened the four-game series at one apiece and snapped Rome’s first winning streak of the second half.
“We fell into a hole that not many teams are going to get out of,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said. “It is just one of those games. Now we have to learn from it and then forget about it.”
Rome scored a pair of runs in the fourth, with Marcus Mooney coming in on a wild pitch and Lucas Herbert scoring Justin Ellison on an RBI single. Anthony Concepcion added another run in the eighth with an RBI single.
Second baseman Jordan Rodgers was the only player with multiple hits, recording two singles and being part of a three-hit rally in the eighth. The Braves failed to get an extra-base hit all night and recorded just four hits against Charleston starter Freicer Perez.
But few offensive numbers could counterbalance Tucker Davidson’s rough start for the Braves. The southpaw was pulled in the second after he allowed five hits and seven of eight batters reached base after an error led off the inning. It was Davidson’s first start for Rome after he recorded a 2.09 ERA while serving as a reliever in the first half.
Isiah Gilliam hit a two-out, two-run double down the left field line to put the RiverDogs up 6-0, and the southpaw’s day was done.
It was not the typical outing from Rome’s pitching staff since the All-Star break. In four of the Braves’ five second half games, the starting pitcher has allowed one run or less through the first five innings.
“I don’t think Davidson pitched that bad. He just had four or five pitches there where the batter found the hole for a few bloopers,” Ingle said. “Once his pitch count went up, they started to get a hold of him.”
The early exit meant a long night for Rome’s bullpen. And while Thomas Burrows allowed only one hit through his two innings of work, Alan Rangel allowed three runs off three hits in the sixth inning and another in the seventh.
The hitting for Rome has been up and down so far in the second half after a few roster changes were made. While hard-hitter Brett Cumberland got called up to Advance Class A Florida, Yeudi Grullon was released by the Atlanta Braves organization. Infielders Rodgers and Austin Bush, meanwhile, were added to Rome’s roster after being drafted earlier this month.
But Ingle said he is still confident, especially after Rome won the second half last season and eventually the SAL championship. With the records reset and a playoff berth still up for grabs, there’s still plenty of hope to go around.
“We had a really good first half, and we think we can build off of that,” Ingle said. “You’re going to have games like this, but you have to forget about them. We have plenty of games ahead of us. We just have to take things day by day.”
The Rome Braves play the third game of the series against Charleston tonight with first pitch at 7 p.m.