Kannapolis, N.C.- For the fourth time in five years, and the second consecutive season, the Savannah Sand Gnats are first-half champions of the South Atlantic League's Southern Division. The Gnats were able to clinch a play-off berth Wednesday without even taking the field.
Wednesday's matchup between the Intimidators and the Gnats was rained out and subsequently cancelled, allowing Savannah to clinch a 2014 play-off berth. No rushing from the dugout for a celebratory pile-on, no nail-biting scoreboard watching- just the pouring rain in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
The Gnats (42-20) have sported the best record in the Southern Division since taking the lead back in April. The second place Asheville Tourists were five and half-games back at the end of Wednesday's doubleheader against Lexington, but were eliminated when the Gnats were rained out. The league's tie breakers, based on winning percentages, made it impossible for Asheville to make the playoffs without the Gnats playing, and then losing, today's game.
The league's first half ends this Sunday, June 15, just before the All-Star Break. The second half will begin Thursday, June 19, giving another divisional team the chance to join the Gnats in the playoffs.
With their ticket punched, the Sand Gnats will face the eventual second-half southern division champions in a best-of-three series beginning on Wednesday, September 3. If the Gnats defeat their divisional opponent, they will then have the opportunity to take on the Northern Division's winner in a best-of-five championship series.
Since becoming a New York Mets affiliate in 2007, the Gnats have won the first half four times, and prevailed over the Hagerstown Suns in 2013 for the league title.
The Gnats will return home Thursday for six games in four days against the Augusta GreenJackets, playing doubleheaders on Thursday and Saturday as make-ups for games postponed by rain in Augusta on May 28th and 29th. Savannah will send starter RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 2.84) to the mound opposite Christian Jones (2-3, 2.38) Thursday for game one of the doubleheader before sending John Gant (6-2, 2.36) to the mound in game two.
Fans can celebrate the first-half championship with half-priced beer thanks to Thirsty Thursday brought to you by Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Connect Savannah, E93 and I-95 FM. There will be a wine sampling featuring Barefoot Refresh. The American Born Moonshine promotional team will also be on-site. First pitch for game one is set for 5:35 p.m. Gates to Historic Grayson Stadium open at 5 pm.