Teenage third baseman Darling Florentino ended five losses worth of frustration with a game-winning two run double in the 10th inning to score Trey Harris and Brendan Venter as the Rome Braves opened their home schedule with a thrilling 4-3 extra inning victory on Thursday evening.
The Braves began the bottom of the 10th down 3-1 after Greenville scored two unearned runs in the top half of the inning thanks in large part to a pair of throwing errors. Rome then won it off Drive lefty reliever Yorvin Pantoja, a rally which began as catcher Logan Brown was plunked by a pitch. After an error by Greenville third baseman Brandon Howlett brought Rome within a run Florentino won it with a line drive shot into the left center field gap. His teammates doused him with Powerade on the infield grass and the losing streak came to an end.
Rome starting pitcher RHP Jasseel De La Cruz was brilliant. The Dominican right-hander threw 4.1 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Rome got solid work from relievers LHP Tanner Lawson and RHP Lukas Young as well. Facing his former team for the first time, Young fired 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Rome pitching ended the night with 15 strikeouts against two walks.
Rome opened the scoring in the 4th inning when Greg Cullen drove a double to the wall in left to score speedster Justin Dean from first base. That lead held until Greenville tied it in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly from Kervin Suarez. Dean had another multi-hit game, going 2-3 with a walk and a run scored. Cullen was 1-4 with a double and an RBI.
Game two of the series between the Rome Braves and Greenville Drive is scheduled for Friday night at 7 pm from State Mutual Stadium. Rome will start RHP Jose Olague and Greenville will put RHP Yasel Santana on the bump.