And they have Matt Lipka to thank for that.
The touted prospect delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 14th to lift the Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Augusta GreenJackets before an announced crowd of 2,028.
It was the Braves second win in the past three games after they opened the season with four straight losses.
Lipka’s clutch hit provided a pleasing ending to an afternoon that had featured plenty of frustration for the Braves, who let a two-run lead slither away in the top of the ninth inning — including surrendering the tying run on a wild pitch with two outs — but then outlasted the Jackets during an epic march through extra innings.
“I was really proud of the way the guys played the game today,” said Rome first-year manager Matt Walbeck. “To be able to battle back, especially after letting the lead slip away, I was real happy with the win.”
The game lasted exactly four hours, but the Braves still had plenty of energy left when it ended. They demonstrated that by pouring out of the dugout and mobbing Lipka at first base.
“I think this win can be a character-builder for us,” said Lipka, who is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Atlanta farm system. “As a team, we are still gelling, but wins like this can really (bring us together) quickly.”
The Braves will wrap up an eight-game homestand tonight against the Jackets at 7 p.m. They then head out on a nine-game road trip that starts on Friday in Charleston, S.C.
“Hopefully, we can build off this win, come out and play well (tonight) and then hit the road on a high note,” said Walbeck.
The Braves pounded out a season-high 17 hits in Wednesday’s game, which was certainly a good sign for a club that entered the day hitting just .230 as a team.
Lipka helped steer the charge. He reached base three times with two singles and a walk, and finished 2-for-6 to raise his average from .174 to .207.
“Obviously, I haven’t been exactly scorching at the plate,” said Lipka, “but I’ve been working with Mendi (hitting coach Carlos Mendez) and hopefully I am getting back to my old self. I had some good at-bats today, and that should be a confidence boost.”
Edward Salcedo had a big day for the Braves, going 3-for-6 with a double and a triple and two RBIs. David Rohm also had three hits, and four other Rome players — Elmer Reyes, Jace Whitmer, Barrett Kleinknecht and Lipka — had two hits each.
Rome’s Danilo Alvarez, the fifth reliever used by the Braves in the game, earned the win with 1 2-3 scoreless innings.
The Braves jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and eventually carried a 5-3 lead into the top of the ninth.
But an error by Salcedo on a potential game-ending double-play grounder enabled the Jackets to score one run, and they added the tying run on a wild pitch with two outs.
It was the second time in the span of four days that the Braves had surrendered a ninth-inning lead. But this time — unlike Sunday’s 7-6 loss to Hagerstown — the Braves were able to overcome the late-game issues.
“When we gave up the lead today, I felt like the coaches did a good job of staying cool and being positive,” said Walbeck. “And the guys responded to that.”
Although it was almost lost in the shuffle amid the details of the marathon contest, Rome starting pitching Caleb Brewer had another strong outing.
He worked six innings, and was charged with three runs (two earned) on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Brewer, who pitched 5 2-3 innings of no-hit ball in his previous start last week, opened Wednesday’s game with 4 2-3 innings of hitless work.