Friday, Apr. 7, 2023–10:49 a.m.
A buzzing Rome community welcomed back the sights and sounds of a minor league ballpark for the twentieth consecutive season Thursday night as the Braves bested the visiting Greenville Drive, 3-1.
The Rome Braves entrusted Ian Mejia with the start on Opening Day against the Red Sox High-A affiliate, Greenville, who sent Boston’s 12th-ranked prospect to the hill, right-hander Wikelman Gonzalez. Mejia’s night began with traffic on the base paths and surrendered Greenville’s first and only run of the night. A one-out single from Chase Meidroth followed up by an RBI triple to deep right off the bat of top prospect, Marcelo Mayer, gave the Drive life in the top of the first.
Rome had the answer in the bottom half, however. Back-to-back walks to the 1-2 batters of Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. and Drake Baldwin compounded into a wild pitch which moved both runners into scoring position with nobody out. Ignacio (Nacho) Alvarez Jr. would pick up the first of his three RBIs on the night with a groundball on the infield to score Kilpatrick Jr. from third. The Drive managed to strand Baldwin on third to keep the game knotted at one apiece.
After three scoreless innings, Rome would finally break the tie in the bottom of the fifth. Sparked by a beautifully placed, Keshawn Ogans bunt single that came to rest on top of the third base line, Braves shortstop Nacho Alvarez Jr. would once again add fuel to the flame, doubling to right field and scoring Ogans and Baldwin.
Mejia worked methodically through the Greenville lineup following the first-inning hiccup. En route to his first decision of the year, Mejia scattered three hits and stranded another three in his five innings of work. Manger Angel Flores turned to reliever Rolddy Munoz in the sixth and the right-hander from Santo Domingo bridged the gap about as well as one could do it. Munoz went three innings, giving up just two hits and held the Drive scoreless. Closer Tyler Owens secured the save and the 3-1 victory for the Rome Braves in front of a crowd of more than 2,200 people at AdventHealth Stadium.
Rome eyes game two of the series against the Drive, scheduled for 7:00 pm EDT on Friday.