Oftentimes, a playoff series is decided by whoever makes the most of the big moments in a game. On Tuesday, after striking out in his first four trips to the plate, Bobby Dalbec came through when it mattered the most.
Boston's No. 11 prospect had a couple of timely hits, including an RBI double in the 13th inning, to help Class A Greenville get by Kannapolis, 8-7, in 13 innings to take a 1-0 lead in the South Atlantic League Championship Series.
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"I guess I set them up with the four strikeouts," Dalbec laughed. "Then I got that go-ahead base hit and then I came through again. I strike out a good amount, so I know how to handle myself when I'm not successful early in the game. I don't let it get to me late in the game, so I can be present in the moment in those late-game situations when the game is on the line."
After opening the scoring on a wild pitch in the first inning, the Drive took a 3-0 lead in the second on a double by Brett Netzer, the No. 30 Red Sox prospect.
The Intimidators responded in the next inning. Jake Burger, the 11th-ranked White Sox prospect, got the rally started with an RBI double to right. By the end of the inning, the game was tied up.
Netzer put the Drive back in front with an RBI single in the fourth, but once again the home team responded as Mitch Roman collected his second RBI knock to square things up at 4-4.
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Alex Call, Chicago's No. 26 prospect, gave the Intimidators their first lead of the game and put himself within a homer of a cycle with an RBI triple to right in the sixth. The lead lasted until the eighth when Santiago Espinal tied the game with the fourth of his five hits in the game, a run-scoring double to center. Espinal crossed the plate on a single to left by Dalbec.
Kannapolis had an answer in the eighth. Burger ripped a double to left that scored fourth-ranked White Sox prospect Blake Rutherford, but a successful relay play by left fielder Tyler Hill, shortstop Espinal and Roldani Baldwin nailed Gavin Sheets, Chicago's No. 16 prospect, at home to keep the game tied, 6-6.
After that, the two teams traded zeros until the 13th when Dalbec stepped up Baldwin on second and one out. The 22-year-old lined a double to left to plate the run and the third baseman crossed the plate on a fielding error by pitcher Andre Davis.
"I wanted to be aggressive early and take control of the at-bat," Dalbec said. "I think it may have been a changeup that I got there, but I got on it and dunked it into left field."
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Roman made things interesting with an RBI knock in the bottom half of the frame, but Drive reliever Joan Martinez struck out Casey Schroeder to give Greenville the early edge in the best-of-5 set.
"These type of games are fun," Dalbec said. "We've had a bunch of them throughout the year, so we're pretty comfortable in these situations."