GREENEVILLE — Pitching was on for the Greeneville Reds in their rubber match against the Burlington Royals. It was just the bats that fell silent at all the wrong times.
The Royals rolled out of Greeneville in the rain after a 3-1 victory over the Reds in front of 1,096 fans at Pioneer Park Tuesday night.
“We couldn’t come up with the big hit today,” Reds manager Gookie Dawkins said. “Our pitchers threw the ball really, really good. The offense just couldn’t do it. We chased a lot of balls out of the zone. We were over-aggressive. Guys were trying to do a little bit too much.”
Greeneville (20-32) left seven runners stranded in the game and was just 1-for-10 with men in scoring position.
The victory gave the Royals (32-22) the series victory, 2-1. The Reds won the opener on Sunday, 8-1, but fell on Monday, 4-3.
Burlington broke up the scoreless standoff in the top of the third. David Hollie led off with a base hit to left field. He had to watch Burie Dixon strikeout, but trotted home after a rocket over the right field fence from Kevon Jackson. The Royals led 2-0.
The Reds cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Ranser Amador drew a walk and was batted to second on a line drive single from Danny Lantigua. After failing twice to bunt his teammates over, Mike Spooner loaded the bases on an infield single.
With no outs on the board, Greeneville was set to do some damage. A double play ball from Johnson scored Amador, but cost him the RBI. A strikeout from Danielito Remy ended the inning with the Reds still down a run.
Burlington got the insurance run they needed in the top of the ninth. William Hancock led off the frame with a double, and while he didn’t get in, the lead-off two-bagger would eventually result in a run thanks to an error that put David Hollie on base the next play.
A sac bunt put Hancock on third and Hollie on second and with one out, a fielder’s choice kept the pressure on, even though Hancock was caught at home.
That should have ended the inning. Instead, an RBI single from Jay Charleston put in the extra run to help Burlington secure the two-run advantage.
Jake Gilbert (0-1) took his first rookie league loss for the Reds, going four innings with five hits, two runs, no walks and four strikeouts.
Jacques Pucheu, who just joined the team from the Billington Mustangs, pitched three innings with one hit, a walk and a strikeout. Matt Gill finished up with two innings, two hits and one unearned run.
“Gilbert threw the ball well and kept us in the game for the most part,” Dawkins said. “He worked ahead. Gilly threw some good balls with some movement on it. Jacques got off the plane today and did the same thing. It was good to see him get out there and compete.”
Patrick Smith (1-0) took the victory on the mound for Burlington. He pitched four innings with two hits, one run, three walks and five strikeouts.
Jonah Dipota picked up his second save of the season with an inning and two strikeouts.
The Reds hit the road for a three-game series at the Bluefield Blue Jays and then a three-game rematch with the Royals in Burlington.
Greeneville returns to Pioneer Park on Aug. 21 for a two-game stint against the Kingsport Mets.