David Dahl and the Tourists set one goal before the start of the season. They took a big first step toward it Wednesday.
The Rockies' No. 3 prospect homered and drove in two runs to lead Class A Asheville to an 8-3 win over Savannah in the opening game of the South Atlantic League semifinals.
Dahl, who finished 3-for-4, was right in the thick of the scoring for the Tourists, singling and scoring in the first inning before slugging a two-run homer in the sixth. The 20-year-old outfielder also doubled in the third, but was thrown out at home trying to score on Correlle Prime's single.
"I felt good, I was seeing the ball well," Dahl said. "I was actually hitting and it started pouring during the [home run] at-bat and it was tough to see. It was raining real hard and I just tried to focus a little more. He threw an inside fastball and I happened to get it pretty good."
He spent six weeks playing in the California League for Class A Advanced Modesto, but returned to Asheville to help the club try and capture their second league title in three seasons. The Alabama native was grateful for the chance to play for the Nuts, but was also happy to try and finish what he started with the Tourists.
"It was good to go up and see the competition and stuff like that and kind of know what I'm coming into next year," MLB.com's No. 42 prospect said. "I was really excited to come back and finish the playoff run here with these guys. We all, out of Spring Training, wanted one thing and that was to win a championship. We just have to keep coming to this field ready to do and hopefully we can do it."
With the best-of-3 semifinal series heading to Savannah for Game 2 on Friday, a victory in the opener was crucial for the Tourists.
"That was a really big win," Dahl said. "You gotta win at home and we came out and we took care of business. It's time to go to Savannah and see if we can do it again."
Raimel Tapia, Colorado's No. 5 prospect, had three hits and scored three runs out of the leadoff spot. The game comes as no surprise, considering Tapia tied for second in the league in runs with 93 and third in average at .326 during the regular season.
"It's great," Dahl said of hitting behind Tapia. "Usually pretty much every at-bat he's on base, so I have someone on base and I have a really good hitter behind me in Ryan McMahon. It just keeps going with Correlle, Jordan Patterson and [Jose] Briceno. From top-to-bottom we have a good-hitting team so anyone can come through at any time."
Kyle Freeland, the Rockies' No. 4 prospect, was credited with the win, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings.
Champ Stuart went 4-for-5 with a solo homer for the Sand Gnats.
In other South Atlantic League action:
Hagerstown 3, Greensboro 2
The Suns erased a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to take Game 1. Wilman Rodriguez tied the game with an RBI double and then scored on Rafael Bautista's walk-off single. Marlins' No. 11 prospect Domingo German scattered four hits while fanning seven over six shutout innings, but did not figure into the decision. The best-of-3 series resumes Friday in Greensboro. Box score