Savannah, GA - For the first time in 17 the Savannah Sand Gnats are Champions. The Gnats finished off the Hagerstown Suns three games to one in the South Atlantic League Championship Series with a 2-0 winnight at Historic Grayson Stadium to win their first SAL title since 1996.
The Gnats scored the game's only runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. After walks to Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera and Cole Frenzel, left fielder Stefan Sabol smashed a double past the dive of Hagerstown third baseman Khayyan Norfolk to score Nimmo and Herrera for a 2-0 lead.
Savannah starter Steven Matz fought his way through 5.2 innings to keep the Suns off the scoreboard. In the third, three singles, two of which did not leave the infield, loaded the bases with no outs against Matz. He escaped trouble by striking out the next two hitters, and breaking a bat to induce a soft pop-out for the third out. Matz struck out nine and walked two. In his two playoff starts, both wins, Matz struck out 17 batters, walked two and allowed five hits in his 12.2 innings.
Reliever Paul Sewald retired four of the five batters he faced to finish the sixth and seventh.
Rehabbing big leaguer Jeurys Familia worked a 1-2-3 8th with two strikeouts in this third appearance in the SAL Championship series.
Beck Wheeler worked around a one out double for his first save of the championship series.
Savannah pitching did not allow a run in the final 19 innings of the SAL Championship series and just two runs in the final 27 innings.
Savannah pitchers did not allow a single run in 27 innings at home at Historic Grayson Stadium in the playoffs.
Opening Day 2014 is, when the Gnats will host the Lakewood BlueClaws to begin their title defense.