Unfortunately, the new opponent was the Bowling Green Hot Rods, who feature one of the league’s premiere players: Tim Beckam.
The electrifying shortstop, who was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, has beaten up on the Braves all season, and he expanded on the trend in Tuesday’s series opener.
Beckham banged out a pair of hits, including a towering two-run homer over the Green Mini-Monster in center field, as the Hot Rods downed the Braves, 10-6.
Bowling Green designated hitter John Mollicone also went wild. He finished 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and four RBIs for the Rods, who battered the Braves’ pitchers to the tune of 11 hits, including four homers, on the night.
The heavy slugging enabled Bowling Green to build a 10-3 lead before the Braves scored three runs in a too-little, too-late rally in the ninth.
The defeat, which came before an announced crowd of 2,571 at State Mutual Stadium, ended a modest two-game winning streak for the Braves, and dropped their second-half record to 2-4.
Beckham, a 19-year-old from Griffin, came into the night batting .345 (10-for-29) with a .610 slugging percentage and 11 RBIs in eight games against the Braves.
He managed to further improve those numbers Tuesday, mostly at the expense of Rome starter Randall Delgado, who allowed seven earned runs on nine hits (two homers) in 4 2-3 innings.
Beckham singled in his first at-bat to spark a two-run rally in the top of the first, and then he connected for his two-run homer in the fourth.
Shayne Moody went 3-for-5 for the Braves, and Chris Shehan added a pair of hits to pace Rome’s 11-hit assault. But it was nonetheless a forgettable night for the home team.
Perhaps the problem was that the Braves were just stunned to see an opposing team dressed in something other than an Augusta uniform.
Before Tuesday, the Braves had played nine consecutive games against Augusta, and had gone 3-6 in that stretch, which dated back to June 18. (The sequence of consecutive games was sandwiched around the three-day All-Star break).
The Braves play the Hot Rods tonight in the second game of the four-game set.