Savannah, GA - The Savannah Sand Gnats improved to 4-3 after hanging 12 runs and 15 hits on the Rome Braves on Thursday night at State Mutual Stadium in Rome, Ga. Gnats RHP Robert Whalen notched his first win of the year after pitching four innings, giving up just three hits in front of a crowd of 5,105.
The Gnats jumped on the scoreboard quickly in the first inning. Designated hitter L.J. Mazzilli hit a double to center field and then scampered to third base after a wild pitch by Rome LHP Michael Flores. Switching-hitting right fielder Jared King then drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Next, left fielder Stefan Sabol swatted a go-ahead three-run home run - his second longball of the season. Sabol now leads the SAL in on-base percentage (.550) and slugging (.938).
Starter Miller Diaz navigated four innings for the Gnats, allowing a base runner in each inning. The Caracas, Venezuela, native whiffed four batters and limited the damage to just three earned runs.
The Gnats offense continued to roll. All but two Savannah hitters found themselves on base including Jared King who is in the middle of a five-game hitting streak. The Dublin, Ohio, native now tops the SAL in RBI (10) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.522). Savannah is now hitting .292 with runners in scoring position, ranking second in the SAL behind only Greensboro (.293).
Whalen, a 12th round pick out of Haines City High School in Haines City, Fla., pitched the next four innings for the Gnats, giving up just one hit and one earned run in his 2014 debut. The righthander pitched his way to a Mets' Sterling Award with the Kingsport Mets in 2013 as a starter.
Reliever RHP Tyler Brosius, the only Braves pitcher to hold the Gnats hitless, walked four and allowed CF Patrick Biondi to score on a Mazzilli sac-fly in the ninth inning.
This victory marks the highest run total thus far the Gnats and brings Savannah into a tie for first place in the Southern Division along with the Greenville Drive.
Righthander Robert Gsellman (0-1, 3.38 ERA) is set to take the mound tomorrow for his second start of the year up against the Braves RHP Carlos Salazar (0-0, 22.5 ERA) with first pitch at State Mutual Stadium set for 7:00 p.m.