The Rome Braves snapped their three-game losing streak Thursday but lost a lead late Friday to split the middle contests of their six-game series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers at State Mutual Stadium.
Rome (33-31) is now 10 games back of division-leading Bowling Green.
Friday: Greensboro 5, Rome 4
Despite a 10-strikeout effort from Freddy Tarnok, Rome fell late to Greensboro 5-4. Matt Gorski’s two-run single in the top of the eighth inning would go down as the game-winning hit for the Grasshoppers, who now move to 12 games above .500.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Shean Michel got the Braves on the scoreboard in a big way, belting a three-run blast out of the park to put Rome in front, 3-2.
However, five consecutive singles with two outs in the top of the eighth inning resulted in three runs for the Grasshoppers.
Brett Langhorne, who started at first base one night after Bryce Ball’s trade to the Chicago Cubs organization, went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to cut the Greensboro edge down to 5-4.
However, Greensboro pitcher Oliver Garcia bounced back quickly, striking out two Rome batters en route to his eighth save of the year.
Thursday: Rome 6, Greensboro 0
The Braves snapped a three-game losing streak with a shutout victory, earning their first W of the series over Greensboro.
Starting pitcher A.J. Puckett had a stellar outing, only allowing two hits with five strikeouts throughout his seven-inning appearance.
The Braves bats backed up Puckett early on. In the bottom of the first inning, outfielder Jesse Franklin V was able to connect on a pitch for a triple, driving in two runs. First baseman Bryce Ball, who was traded later in the night to the Chicago Cubs, brought Franklin home on a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead after one.
The Braves offense then stagnated for the next five innings, with one run being scored in the seventh inning and two runs in the eighth inning.
After Puckett (3-1) was pulled, pitchers Marrick Crouse and Kasey Kalich closed the game out for the Braves.
Outfielder Andrew Moritz went 3-for-4 on the day, including an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning. Other notable hitters were third baseman Riley Delgado, who went 2-for-2 with a run scored and Michael Harris II, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and a run scored.