Drive stay alive in Sally League

Kelly collects clutch single in three-run inning to avoid sweep

(Tom Priddy/

By Danny Wild / | September 17, 2009 7:03 PM

Casey Kelly's RBI single highlighted a go-ahead rally in Greenville's critical Game 3 win Thursday night, but he was quick to shift the credit to his pitchers.

"The pitching has been great all playoffs," said Kelly, an infielder who began the season as one of Greenville's starting pitchers. "They've been solid. Our starters going five, six solid innings and our bullpen has picked us up when we needed it. "Jeremy [Kehrt] got in trouble in the ninth, and we come down and shut them down the next at-bat."

Kyle Rutter wiggled out of the jam in the ninth as Greenville hung on to beat Lakewood, 3-2, in Game 3 of the best-of-5 South Atlantic League Finals on Thursday night.

Greenville, who trails Lakewood in the series, 2-1, faced a must-win scenario entering the game.

"I think it helps our confidence, it's a big confidence booster to get those big hits in big situations," said Kelly. "That's what we need to do to win this series. We've got to work on getting them in and take these last two games."

Kelly, who spent the first half of the season as a pitcher, lined a go-ahead base hit in the Drive's three-run sixth inning rally. Mitch Dening smacked an RBI double and scored the decisive third run on Tyler Weeden's sacrifice fly.

"I was just thinking, guys on third and second, I'm putting something in play," Kelly said. "A sac fly, get a run across the board."

Starter Stolmy Pimentel, one of the top pitchers in Boston's system, held the BlueClaws to one run on six hits over five innings, striking out two.

Lakewood took the lead in the fifth on Jim Murphy's RBI double and added another run in the eighth when Travis Mattair drove home Sebastian Valle. The 'Claws threatened with two outs in the ninth, but Rutter struck out Valle with runners on first and second.

Kehrt protected the lead for 3 1/3 innings, holding the BlueClaws to a run on five hits and a walk to pick up his second postseason victory.

Kelly said the team was relaxed before the game, taking the same attitude they held all summer long.

"I think it's been the same since day one, we go in and play how we know how to play," he said. "We played good in New Jersey, but it didn't go our way. We've been playing solid defense, so we've not to change anything. Tonight, we got a couple big hits."

Right-hander Trevor May, the Phillies' fourth-round pick in last year's Draft, held the Drive to three hits and two walks over five shutout frames. He struck out three before Jacob Diekman (0-1) surrendered three runs on a hit and two walks, retiring one batter to suffer the loss.

Kelly can appreciate a good start and a clutch bullpen. He went 6-1 with a 1.12 ERA in nine starts for Greenville from April 12-May 25 before his transition to the infield.

"It's still like preseason," he laughed. "The first half was like football season, I played once a week. Now I'm really playing baseball the second half. But it's been great, it's been an awesome season and I'd love to cap it off with a championship."

Kelly said he hasn't thought about his role in 2010.

"I'm not really sure, I think we're going to sit down and have a talk with the Red Sox front office, brainstorm what they want and I want to do. Right now, my focus on winning this series."

Danny Wild is an editor for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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