Preview: Game 2 of SAL Championship Series

Kannapolis hosting final game of 2017 before heading south

Ben Wright ranks second in the SAL postseason with 10 strikeouts over his two relief appearances for Kannapolis during the 2017 playoffs. (photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

By Kannapolis Intimidators | September 13, 2017 12:24 PM ET


Kannapolis Intimidators (68-69) vs. Greenville Drive (79-60)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 7:05 p.m.
Intimidators Stadium supported by Carolinas HealthCare System
Kannapolis, N.C.
SAL Championship Series (Best of 5) - Game 2 - GVL leads 1-0
RH Luis Martinez (1-0, 0.00) vs. LH Jhonathan Diaz (0.00, 0.00)


Championship Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) hosts the Drive (A, Red Sox) in Game 2 of this best-of-five SAL Championship Series on Wednesday before the series shifts to Greenville for the remaining games of the series. Kannapolis, which won its only title in 2005, defeated Greensboro to win the Northern Division while Greenville edged Charleston to capture the Southern Division crown.

Intimidating Starter: Luis Martinez, 22, takes the ball for his second postseason start on the heels of a Northern Division Series Game 1 win at Greensboro on Sept. 7, throwing 5.0 scoreless innings to open a shutout win for Kannapolis. He went 8-2 with a 3.19 ERA (24 ER/79.0 IP) in 14 starts during the SAL regular season. The right-hander is the I's all-time wins leader, notching 20 wins in the SAL from 2015-17 during the regular season with Kannapolis. In his lone start against Greenville this season, Martinez was roughed up in a road loss on July 13, allowing seven runs (five earned) in 2.0 innings to the Drive. The right-hander strung together five straight winning decisions, winning five of six starts from July 24 to August 21, including a pair of 10-strikeout games on July 30 at Lexington and against August 16 at Lakewood, setting a new career-high.

Dealing for Drive: Jhonathan Diaz, who turns 21 today, makes his third start against Kannapolis this season and his first playoff appearance. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA (5 ER/10 IP) and five strikeouts in two starts against the Intimidators, including a road win on Aug. 8. He finished the regular season 6-6 with a 4.57 ERA (45 ER/88.2 IP) and 80 strikeouts compared to 28 walks in 18 games (18 starts) for the Drive. His final outing of the regular season came Sept. 3 in a road loss to Asheville in which he gave up six runs on 10 hits over 5.0 innings while striking out eight and walking three. Left handed hitters hit .303 (36-119) against the left-hander while righties hit .283 (65-230).

About Last Night: The Intimidators fell the Greenville Drive, 8-7 in 13 innings, in Game 1 of the best-of-five SAL Championship Series on Tuesday. On three occasions, Kannapolis rallied to tie the game, but Greenville's fourth lead of the night held up in extras. In the top of the 13th, Roldani Baldwin led off with a base hit and moved to second on a Jagger Rusconi sacrifice bunt. Bobby Dalbec, who began his night with four strikeouts, made up for his earlier at-bats with a go-ahead double, scoring Baldwin for a 7-6 lead. Dalbec, who finished 2-7 with two RBI, later came around to score on an Intimidators error for what proved to be the game-winning run. Kannapolis attempted to rally one last time in the bottom of the 13th. Joan Martinez plunked Gavin Sheets, and Grant Massey came in to pinch-run. With two outs, Massey moved to second on a wild pitch, and Mitch Roman dropped an RBI-single in right field, scoring Massey to pull within a run. Martinez fanned Casey Schroeder to end the game, earning the save (1). Algenis Martinez (1-0) earned the win with 3.0 scoreless innings for the Drive in his first outing of the postseason. Andre Davis (0-1) lost, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.0 innings.

Three-Hit Musketeers: Jake Burger, Alex Call, and Mitch Roman collected three hits for Kannapolis as the 5-6-7 hitters combined for nine of the team's 11 hits on Tuesday. Burger now ranks second in the SAL postseason with a .357 average (5-14) while Roman ranks fifth at .308 (4-13).

A Score of Strikeouts: Kannapolis pitchers combined to strike out 20 batters in 13 innings on Tuesday to match the team's season high from 2017, set on May 28 at Greensboro in a 9-inning game. Yelmison Peralta struck out three over 2.0 innings as the Intimidators' starter, and Jake Elliott followed with five strikeouts in 3.0 innings. JB Olson fanned four in 2.0 innings, Danny Dopico added a strikeout, Ben Wright fanned five, and Andre Davis notched a pair to pile up the strikeouts. Two Greenville hitters put on the Golden Sombrero as Bobby Dalbec and Tucker Tubbs each struck out four times.

Gimme Five: Greenville's Santiago Espinal had a career-high five hits Tuesday, going 5-7 with three runs scored, raising his post-season average to .350 (7-20), which ranks third in the SAL playoffs.

Sheets Streak Snapped: Gavin Sheets went 0-3 with two walks on Tuesday, ending his career-best 12-game hitting streak, including the final 10 games of the regular season and the first two playoff games. He hit .347 (17-49) over those 12 games from August 23 through Sept. 8.

Postseason Extras: Kannapolis went to extra innings in a postseason game for the first time since the team's 21-inning 4-3 win on Sept. 7, 2005, at home vs. Charleston in Game 1 of the Southern Division Series. Tuesday's 13-inning loss to Greenville is only the team's second extra-inning game out of the 11 postseason games in the Intimidators era (since 2001).

Free Willy: Major League outfielder Willy Garcia has joined Kannapolis on a rehab assignment, the first current big league rehabber to play for the Intimidators since 2009. Garcia was placed on the White Sox disabled list on Aug. 1 after colliding with Yoan Moncada on July 31. In three playoff games with the Intimidators, he is 1-11 with a run, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Broadcast Information: All home and select road games will be broadcast live on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network online at and via the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his seventh season as the "Voice of the Intimidators." Phil Constantino will handle play-by-play during weekend home games.

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

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