GREENVILLE, S.C. (Sep. 15, 2017) - The Greenville Drive won their first South Atlantic League Championship in franchise history, defeating the Kannapolis Intimidators, 8-3, in Game 4 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series on Friday night at Fluor Field at the West End, winning the best-of-five series, 3-games-to-1. Greenville broke a 3-3 tie with five runs in the sixth inning against the Kannapolis bullpen, highlighted by a bases-clearing 3-run double by former Charlotte 49ers second baseman Brett Netzer.
Drive reliever Hunter Smith (1-0) earned the win with 2 and 1/3 scoreless relief innings, getting Greenville out of a jam in the fifth while keeping Kannapolis off the board with perfect frames in the sixth and seventh. Brendan Nail tossed a scoreless eight, and Juan Florentino closed the game with a scoreless ninth, setting off a championship celebration.
With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Bobby Dalbec, Ryan Scott, and Mitch Gonsolus led off the inning with three straight singles to load the bases. Pedro Castellanos grounded a ball to third base, but Dalbec beat Jake Burger's throw home to give Greenville a 4-3 lead. Two batters later, Jagger Rusconi singled up the middle to score Scott and chase reliever Andre Davis from the game. Ben Wright came in and recorded an out before Netzer's 3-run double to the left-center field gap broke open the game, 8-3. Davis (0-2) took the loss.
Greenville jumped ahead with a 3-0 lead in the first inning. With one out, Netzer and Roldani Baldwin hit back-to-back singles, and Dalbec followed with an RBI-double for the game's first run. Two batters later, Tyler Hill lifted a pop up into shallow right field, and second base Zach Remillard was unable to make the over-the-shoulder catch, allowing two runs to score on the error.
Kannapolis responded in the third as Alex Call led off the inning with a home run, his first of the postseason. In the fourth, Evan Skoug belted a solo home run with two outs in the inning. Joel Booker followed with a base hit, took second on a passed ball, and scored on Call's third hit of the game, an RBI-single. Call finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored to lead the Intimidators.
John Parke, making his Class A debut as the Intimidators starting pitcher, bounced back from the 3-run first inning in front of his hometown crowd. The Greenville, S.C., native kept the Drive off the scoreboard from the second inning through the fifth. Parke, the White Sox 17th round pick in the June 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of South Carolina, worked 5.0 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in a no decision.
The loss ended a season for Kannapolis highlighted by a score of player promotions and the team's first Northern Division Championship since the 2005 league championship season. The Intimidators promoted 21 players to the Class A-Advanced Winston-Salem Dash. Seven Intimidators - pitchers Alec Hansen, Jimmy Lambert, Mike Morrison, and Kyle Kubat, outfielders Joel Booker, infielder Mitch Roman, and catcher Seby Zavala - represented Kannapolis in the SAL Mid-Season All-Star Game. Micker Adolfo was named to the SAL Annual All-Star Team at the end of the season. Kannapolis, which won the First Half Championship to secure its first postseason berth since 2009, defeated Greensboro with a 2-games-to-0 sweep in the Northern Division Series before eventually falling the Drive in the SAL Championship Series.
The Kannapolis Intimidators open the 2018 season, the 24th year of professional baseball in Kannapolis, at home on Thursday, April 5, 2018, against the Lakewood BlueClaws. Season tickets and sponsorship information for the 2018 season is available by calling the F&M Bank Box Office at (704) 932-3267 or by visiting IntimidatorsBaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.