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ROME BRAVES: Wentz, Offense powers Rome to 8-1 win over Asheville

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When Asheville got a 1-0 lead at State Mutual Stadium on Wednesday evening, Rome starter Joey Wentz had to take a breath. Then he got the backing of his teammates to help out.

Kurt Hoekstra had two hits and scored two runs, and Wentz allowed just one hit over six innings as the Rome Braves topped Asheville 8-1.

“That’s Joey Wentz being Joey Wentz,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said. “He’s been throwing the ball really well and continues to do well out on the mound. Nothing phases him and he uses all of his pitches. He competes.”

Wentz (8-3) allowed one run while striking out five and walking one to get the win.

“It felt good. I mean, obviously you never want to give up a run in the first, but tonight wasn’t really about me. It was about our team and our offense,” Wentz said.

The 19-year-old prospect out of Kansas owns a league-leading 2.19 ERA and has had one solid outing after another for the Atlanta farm team.

“It’s easy to come out and try to pitch well when you have the guys behind you to make the plays and give us a lead,” Wentz said.

“I was happy with it. I thought my command was pretty good tonight, but the most important thing is we won as a team and we’re going to try to get rolling.”

With the game tied 1-1, the Braves took the lead for good with three runs in the third inning.

Drew Lugbauer hit a two-run double and Marcus Mooney hit an RBI single en route to the three-run lead.

The Braves later added two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.

In the fourth, Isranel Wilson and Mooney both drove in a run, while Kevin Josephina hit an RBI single in the fifth.

The outburst of hits — 15 total — came after Rome and Asheville played a 17-inning marathon the night before which the Tourists won 6-4.

“We swung the bats well. I wish we could have gotten one of those hits last night. Maybe we wouldn’t have played as long,” Ingle joked.

“We had some two-out RBIs that were clutch, situational hitting was good. We got some bunts down, got some guys over and were able to come through with some hits after that.”

Asheville’s Rico Garcia (0-1) went three innings, allowing four runs and six hits in the South Atlantic League game. He also struck out two and walked one.

Rome improved to 17-4 against Asheville this season.

Sports editor Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.