Kannapolis, NC - Extra innings are nothing new to the Greenville Drive in 2017, and their experience showed in game one of the South Atlantic League Championship Series on Tuesday, as they scored twice in the top of the 13th inning to notch an 8-7 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators.
The winning rally began when Roldani Baldwin led off the inning with a single, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jagger Rusconi. Bobby Dalbec then put the Drive ahead by smacking a double to the left field corner to bring in Baldwin. After a single by Mitchell Gunsolus put runners on the corners, Tyler Hill's grounder was misplayed by Andre Davis to bring home another run.
That second run proved to be huge, as the Intimidators made things interesting in the bottom half of the 13th when Mitch Roman delivered an RBI single to cut the Drive's lead to 8-7. Joan Martinez bounced back from that run by notching a strikeout to extinguish the rally and give the Drive a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Drive jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the game. Santiago Espinal led off the top of the first with a single, his first of five hits on the night, and he later came home on a wild pitch. After singles by Yoan Aybar and Espinal in the second, Brett Netzer doubled home both runners to extend the lead.
Kannapolis answered in the bottom of the second with three runs to tie the game. Jake Burger's RBI double put the Intimidators on the board, and they also received an RBI single from Mitch Roman and a sacrifice fly by Casey Schroeder in the inning.
The game became a seesaw affair as it progressed. The teams traded runs in the fourth, as Netzer delivered a run-scoring single in the top half that was countered by an RBI hit from Roman in the bottom half.
The Intimidators took the lead in the sixth on an RBI triple by Alex Call, who collected three hits and fell a home run shy of the cycle.
The lead went right back to the Drive in the top half of the eighth, as Aybar led off with a single and came all the way in on Espinal's double to center to tie the game. Dalbec then singled home Espinal later in the inning to put Greenville back ahead. Kannapolis quickly countered in the bottom half, however, as Burger's RBI double knotted the game up at six, where it stayed until extras.
Algenis Martinez delivered three scoreless innings of relief to get the win for Greenville.
Espinal's five-hit night paced the offense, and he became the second Drive player to record five hits in a game this season, joining Tucker Tubbs in accomplishing the feat. Netzer recorded three RBI on a pair of hits, while Aybar, Baldwin and Dalbec all collected two hits as well. Burger, Call and Roman all picked up three hits for Kannapolis.
Game two of the South Atlantic League Championship Series begins at 7:05 on Wednesday night in Kannapolis. The Drive look to extend the series lead with left-hander Jhonathan Diaz on the mound, and he will be opposed by Intimidators right-hander Luis Martinez.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.