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Gnats' Lakewood Rally Falls Short
04/27/2014 11:02 PM ET
First baseman Dominic Smith was 2-for-3 and hit his third double in three consecutive games on the way to the 6-5 loss to Lakewood on Sunday. (Photo by Fred Devyatkin)

Lakewood Township, N.J. - The Savannah Sand Gnats were defeated by Lakewood 6-5 on Sunday at FirstEnergy Park, despite outhitting the BlueClaws 9-5. The Gnats rallied with two runs in the eighth and then one run in the ninth to cut the lead to one, but were thwarted when reliever Joaquin Ulises  coaxed third baseman Jeff McNeil to pop-up for the final out.

Savannah starter Chris Flexen began the first inning by giving up a solo home run to shortstop J.P. Crawford. After inducing a fly-out and a ground-out, Flexen allowed another solo home run- this time to first baseman Wilmer Oberto. Flexen then allowed another four Lakewood runs to cross the plate in the third inning. His season-high six earned runs were enough to force an early exit after just three innings.  

Lefthander Dario Alvarez threw three innings of scoreless relief for Savannah, striking out six batters compared to issuing just one walk. Opponents are now hitting just .111 against Alvarez.

Strikeout specialist Akeel Morris finished the game for the Gnats whiffing another three hitters and allowing just one walk in his two innings of work. Savannah pitchers now lead the league with a whopping 10.22 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The Gnats amassed nine hits but were just 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Shortstop Gavin Cecchini finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. First baseman Dominic Smith went 2-for-3 with a double off of Lakewood starter Tyler Viza in the top of the fifth. After a shaky start to the season, Smith has regrouped to hit .353 over his last five games, smacking a double in each of the last three. The 18-year-old first-rounder has struck out just once in his last four games.  

After taking the series 3-2 against Lakewood (7-16), Savannah (14-8) now has just a half-game lead over the Greenville Drive. The Gnats will return home Tuesday as they send RHP Kevin McGowan (0-1, 5.27) to the mound up against Orioles 2013 first-round pick, RHP Hunter Harvey (1-0, 0.86). Fans can enjoy two-for-one Coors Light and Miller Lite as a part of Two-For-Tuesday. Gates at Historic Grayson Stadium will open at 6:05 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. The radio broadcast on News/Talk 630 WBMQ and online at sandgnats.com begins with the pregame show at 6:45 pm.

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