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Gnats' Homers Topple Birds 10-5
04/22/2014 12:10 AM ET
Third baseman Jeff McNeil hit his 2nd home run and his league-leading 8th double to help the Gnats beat the Shorebirds 10-5 on Monday night. (Photo by Fred Devyatkin)

Salisbury, MD - The Savannah Sand Gnats started their seven game road trip with a bang, defeating the Delmarva Shorebirds 10-5 on Monday night at Purdue Stadium. The Gnats produced 13 hits including solo home runs by third baseman Jeff McNeil, left fielder Jared King, and designated hitter Stefan Sabol. Savannah starter Chris Flexen earned his first win by navigating nine hits over five innings.

Both teams piled up the contact, with Delmarva outhitting Savannah 16-13. The Sand Gnats (10-5) scored in every inning besides the seventh with every hitter reaching base at least once throughout the night. McNeil led the charge going three-for-six with his second home run and his league-leading eighth double of the season. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native and scratch golfer now leads the Gnats with a .339 average and sits atop the South Atlantic League with 11 extra-base hits.

Savannah hitters went 13-40 against Delmarva pitching, chasing starter Austin Urban after three earned runs over just three innings. Gnats first baseman Dominic Smith busted out of a 2-for-30 slump with his first multi-hit game since April 9th, going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs.

Delmarva (8-9) collected 16 hits, led by a four-for-five night from catcher Chance Sisco. Sand Gnats reliever Robert Coles cruised through two scoreless innings of relief in the sixth and seventh by striking out four and walking just one batter. Coles is still sporting a shiny 0.00 ERA.

Savannah reliever Dawrin Frias got into trouble in the ninth inning thanks to back-to-back singles, a passed ball, a wild pitch, and a fielding error by shortstop Gavin Cecchini, resulting in two runs scored. Frias then buckled down to strike out second baseman Justin Viele. Next, right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, Grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, popped-up into a game-ending double play. McNeil caught the fly ball and was able to throw to Cecchini at third base to tag out an advancing Gregory Lorenzo.   

The Sand Gnats hold on to first place in the division, despite ranking last in the league with seven hits per game. The Gnats have done the most with their hits, and have avoided hurting their cause by striking out just 105 times (2nd best in the SAL) and grounding into just 4 double plays (1st in the SAL).

Jared King extended his South Atlantic League-leading consecutive on-base streak to 17 games by going two-for-five with a triple and a home run.   

The Gnats look to continue their winning ways Tuesday as they send righthander Kevin McGowan (0-0, 3.86) to the mound up against 2013 Orioles first-round draft pick, righthander Hunter Harvey (1-0, 1.06). First pitch at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium is set for 7:05 p.m. in Salisbury, Md. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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