Friday, May 25, 2018

Charleston RiverDogs 0-3 at Augusta GreenJackets 4-2 (South Atlantic League) - May 23, 2018


There is only one new stadium in minor league baseball this season, with the Augusta GreenJackets moving from Lake Olmstead Stadium to SRP Park. Much like the Atlanta Braves who left Turner Field after just 20 years and moved to another city, the GreenJackets left a ballpark that was only 22 years old and landed in another town. In fact, they no longer play in Georgia, as SRP Park is across the Savannah River in North Augusta, South Carolina.



The ballpark is the centerpiece of a larger development known as Riverside Village. Most of it is still under construction so parking can be a bit of a hassle. Fortunately, my hotel had a shuttle as well as a free ticket, so I was dropped off right at the main gate. If you do drive, check out the GreenJackets website for parking information. Note that the pictures above and below were taken on Friday morning, which is why the gates are closed.



The box office and Hive team shop are right next to the main gate, but with the game about to start, I hurried right in. I did not bother to tour the ballpark on this visit as I planned to attend the game on Thursday, but that was rained out, so photos are at a minimum.



The single seating bowl is mostly Kelly green seats, with the exception of Section 100 right behind the plate. The first few rows have wooden seat backs (somewhat visible in the photo below) while the last few rows are called VIP Loge, where four seats come with a table. Both of these were sold out long before the season started.



Above right field is the TaxSlayer Terrace, where you can stand in the hopes of catching a home run ball. The concourse is 360 degrees and there are drink rails all the way around, which is very useful as beer here is a bargain, with 32-ounce premium beers only $7 (you can save a buck by drinking the usual stuff). There are plenty of concession stands too, each with a different name and different options. Maurice's BBQ sandwich, found at  was a bargain at $5.



I didn't see much history here but again, I did not do my usual tour. A Wall of Champions can be found on the back of the concourse behind first base.



Overall, SRP Park is an impressive addition to the South Atlantic League. It is similar to many other new minor league parks, with a single seating bowl with suites above, an open concourse, a berm in one corner, a children's area in the outfield, and plenty of good food options. As work on the project continues, the overall experience will only improve, and I will have to return to enjoy it completely next time.

The Games

The previous night's game had been rained out so a doubleheader was scheduled for 5 p.m., 2 hours earlier than the original game time. I had a long drive from Cocoa Beach, and I didn't arrive at my hotel until 5, but a rainstorm had soaked the grounds and the start was delayed until 6:45, so I was able to catch both games.

In the opener, J.P. Sears (11th round, 2017 by Seattle) started for visiting Charleston (Yankees) while Joey Marciano (36th, 2017) took the hill for Augusta (Giants). The GreenJackets plated 3 in the second with Giants top prospect Heliot Ramos (19th overall in 2017) singling home one of those runs. Augusta added another run in the 6th when Manuel Geraldo doubled and scored on a line out to centerfielder Pablo Olivares by Jacob Gonzalez (2nd, 2017, Giants #11 prospect). How do you score from second on a lineout? Olivares bobbled the ball while transferring it to throw, but even then, I believe that Geraldo left early. Charleston threw to second to appeal, but it was denied. In the end, Olivares was given an error but I'm sure the umpire missed the call. Anyway, Ryan Koziol relieved Marciano in the 7th and retired the side in order as Augusta won 4-0.



The second game saw Janson Junk (22nd, 2017) start for the RiverDogs against Aaron Phillips (9th, 2017). Charleston took an early 2-0 lead but Ramos got one back for Augusta with a third-inning double. Both teams scored in the fifth and that was it as Charleston won the nightcap 3-2. I enjoyed the scoreboard shot above as it was a rare palindromic line score (3-5-1, 1-5-3).



By the end of the second game, fog was sweeping across the outfield. It did not impact play, but was interesting to see.

Notes

Near the end of the second game, a tiny frog hopped in front of me. I have seen a lot of things at baseball games, but this was a first, and an obvious omen of the impending rainout on Thursday.



There are three new ballparks opening in 2019: Amarillo, Fayetteville, and Las Vegas. I don't know if I will be able to get to them all, so this could be the last time I can say that I have seen a game in all 160 active minor league stadiums.

Next Up

I'll be heading through Baltimore as I drive back to NYC and will see at least one Orioles game. After that, the summer will be quiet, though I am hoping to get to Chicago for the Blue Jays at the end of July. As always, check back for updates.

Best,

Sean

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