The Rome Braves hit the road to the Palmetto State for their first series with long time South Atlantic League foe, the Greenville Drive. Entering the series with the Drive, Rome had yet to drop a series in the 2022 campaign. Just one game out of first, the Braves looked to close the gap on first place Bowling Green.
Game One: Drive 4, Braves 2
Rome would give the ball to Andrew Hoffmann in the opener against the Drive with hopes of jumping out to a series lead. Rome would jump on the board early thanks to a Justyn-Henry Malloy homer that put the Braves up one run to nothing. Andrew Hoffmann would make it through the first inning with ease, but would hit a speed bump in the bottom half of the second. A sac fly and a homer would give Greenville a three to one lead, and cause an early exit for Hoffmann. The two inning performance would be the shortest outing of the season for Hoffmann. Rome would close the gap by a run thanks to a Tyler Tolve ground out that scored Landon Stephens, but that would be the end of the scoring efforts from the Braves in game one. Greenville would tack on one more run to take game one by a score of four runs to two.
Game Two: Braves 9, Drive 5 (10 innings)
Game two would be a bullpen game for the Braves, as Jake McSteen would take the mound in a spot start looking to even up the series. McSteen’s first start of the season would see him go three full innings and give up two runs on two hits while striking out five. Although Greenville would jump out to an early two run lead, Rome would surge back and take a commanding lead. Justyn-Henry malloy would get the Braves on the board with an RBI single that scored Christian Robinson, and Cade Bunnell would send a ball over the center field fence to put the Rome up four runs to two. Beau Philip would tack on one more run to give the braves a five to two advantage. The later innings would see Greenville chip away at the Rome lead, and by the ninth inning, the Drive had knotted up the score at five. The Braves took advantage of their first extra frame of the 2022 campaign, hanging a four spot on the Drive in the top of the tenth. A Beau Philip ground out, Javier Valdes homer, and Cody Milligan double would all contribute to the nine to five win Rome would claim in game two. Austin Smith would be the winning pitcher of record, his first of the season.
Game Three: Drive 7, Braves 4
Luis De Avila would get the ball in game three as the Braves looked to jump out to a series lead.
Both the Drive and the Braves would work scoreless opening frames, but the Drive would strike first with a Nicholas Northcut homer. Greenville would add two more runs before a Cody Milligan double and Vaughn Grissom RBI would pull the Braves within one run, but a Ceddanne Rafaela homer would put the Drive out in front by a score of six runs to three. Each team would touch home plate one more time before the final out, and Greenville would take game three by a score of seven runs to four.
Game Four: Drive 8, Braves 7
Game four would be a slugfest between the Drive and the Braves, as each team would tally thirteen hits each. Justun-Henry Malloy would wallop his third home run of the season in the top of the first to get the Braves on the board early by a score of two to zero. Greenville would punch back in the bottom of the first with a run of their own, but Rome would charge ahead in the top of the second. A two-run double from Cade Bunnell and a sac fly from Drew Campbell would put the Braves up five runs to one. Rome would tack on one more before the scoring got going for Greenville. In a span of three innings, the Drive rattled off seven unanswered runs to win the contest by a score of eight runs to seven.
Game Five: Drive 5, Braves 1
Royber Salinas would get the ball in his first High-A start on Saturday’s game five. Entering the contest, Salinas lead all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts, however the Drive would not be kind to Royber in his debut. Greenville hung a four spot on the Braves in the bottom of the first and never looked back. The Drive’s pitching staff would carry a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and Greenville would tally one more run before Cade Bunnell would drive in the Braves first and only run of the game. With the five to one win, Greenville would clinch the series win over Rome.
Game Six: Drive 10, Braves 3
Rome would send Dylan Dodd to the mound in the series finale against Greenville on Sunday in hopes of getting out of town with a win. The Drive would make quick work of Dodd, putting up four runs in the bottom of the second. After a rocky second, Dodd would settle in and go five and one third of an inning, striking out six along the way. Christian Robinson would drive in two runs for the Braves, but long balls from Nick Yorke and Alex Erro would be too much for Rome to overcome. Rome would fall by a score of ten to three.
The Braves return home to take on the Winston-Salem Dash in a six game series starting on Tuesday with an 11:00 am first pitch.