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2023 South Atlantic League playoffs coverage

Drive rebound from skid, steer their way to a postseason sweep
September 20, 2023

Championship Series

Championship Series

Sept. 19

Drive 7, Renegades 3
A four-season title drought came to an end for Greenville on Tuesday after an undefeated playoff run.

It was a back-and-forth affair in Game 2 of the South Atlantic Championship Series, but the High-A Red Sox affiliate strung together some big hits to defeat Hudson Valley to win the crown.

Despite the Drive’s dominance in the postseason, which began with a sweep of Hickory in the semifinals, the regular season had its ups and downs. In the first half, Greenville went 36-30 to lead the South Division. They topped the division in run differential at +14. The second half was a different story as the Drive crawled into the playoffs with a 27-39 record capped by a six-game losing streak.

Greenville manager Iggy Suarez said the team was able to turn the page, entering postseason play with optimism:

“I think after that Sunday when we lost that sixth in a row, the guys were ready to get that over with," he said. "They were ready to get the season over with and ready for the postseason. The vibe in the clubhouse wasn’t ‘We just lost six in a row,’ the vibe was ‘The season is over, and now we get to start what we’ve been wanting to start.'” Full story

Sept. 17

Drive 2, Renegades 0
Boston-New York rivalry games may get the most attention, but their High-A affiliates can put on excellent games as well.

Greenville edged Hudson Valley in a fierce pitching duel at Dutchess Stadium to kick off the best-of-3 South Atlantic League Finals. The game remained scoreless until the sixth inning as the Drive picked up their 10th shutout of the season.

Tenth-ranked Red Sox prospect Luis Perales led the way for Greenville and tied a career high with six scoreless innings. His only baserunners were a pair of walks and one single, although Perales erased the hit three pitches later on a double play.

Casey Cobb, Frank German and Felix Cepeda closed out the game with little traffic, outside of a single and hit by pitch in the ninth.

Hudson Valley's pitching -- led by four scoreless from starter Jackson Fristoe -- was nearly as dominant, so Greenville had to get creative to score. In the top of the third inning, the Drive attempted a double steal, but a quick throw from second baseman Jared Serna caught Gilberto Jimenez trying to take home. Greenville eventually scored in the fifth by drawing five straight walks. Box score


Sept. 15

Renegades 3, BlueClaws 2
With each team plating a run in the first frame, Game 3 had the early looks of being an offensive duel. What transpired was much different, as Brock Selvidge's performance on the mound became the story.

The No. 13 Yankees prospect fanned seven batters and allowed five hits and two runs across 6 2/3 innings for Hudson Valley. The outing, combined with his final two starts of the regular season, brings the left-hander's ERA to 2.45 in the month of September.

Offensively, the High-A Yankees affiliate tallied five knocks, four of which came courtesy of the Benjamin Cowles and Rafael Flores tandem. Cowles -- who recorded the final out of the win -- went 2-for-3 with a triple, an RBI single and a walk, while Flores went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored, raising his OPS to 1.386 in the playoffs.

The standout performer for Jersey Shore was Felix Reyes. The 22-year-old reached base four times, going 3-for-3 with a triple and an RBI single that raised his OPS to 1.475 in the series.

The Renegades will play the Red Sox-affiliated Greenville Drive in the South Atlantic League Finals, eyeing their first league title since 2017. Box score

Sept. 14

Drive 6, Crawdads 3
Greenville got contributions on both sides of the ball and one big inning to sweep the best-of-3 semifinal and advance to the Championship Series.

Kristian Campbell got the Drive on the board with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the second frame, and after Greenville loaded the bases, Eddinson Paulino cleared them with another two-bagger. Seeing Paulino line one into the gap wasn't exactly a new sight this season, as the No. 21 Red Sox prospect hit a team-high 28 doubles in 115 games this season.

Greenville’s pitching also performed admirably, compiling 15 strikeouts on the night. Starter Yordanny Monegro, Boston's No. 22 prospect, allowed two runs on six hits and a walk, striking out seven, over five innings. Drive relievers Robert Kwiatkowski and Frank German each struck out three over three combined scoreless frames to help keep the Crawdads offense at bay.

Max Acosta singled in a run in the first and scored another in the fourth on his multihit night for Hickory. Box score

Renegades 6, BlueClaws 2
After dropping Game 1 of the best-of-3 semifinal series on a late-game homer, Hudson Valley evened the series to set up a winner-takes-all finale on Friday.

Spencer Henson, who crushed a career-high 14 dingers during the regular season, hammered Hudson Valley’s sole homer of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Renegades, who only scored one run in the opener, got contributions up and down the lineup. Anthony Hall, Jared Serna and Alexander Vargas notched RBI singles as Hudson Valley scored in five of the eight innings in which it batted.

The offensive outburst backed an equally impressive showing from the pitching staff, which yielded just two runs for the second game in a row. Right-hander Cam Schlitter struck out five over five innings of one-run ball before fellow righties Osiel Rodriguez and Matt Keating closed the door.

Jared Carr tripled in a run and scored the other in the eighth on his multihit night for Jersey Shore. Box score

Sept. 12

BlueClaws 2, Renegades 1
The Lakewood-Hudson Valley best-of-3 semifinals started off with a pitchers' duel and wasn't resolved until a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning at ShoreTown Ballpark.

Caleb Ricketts, who only teed off four times over 70 games across three levels, put the BlueClaws on the board and in the win column with the two-run dinger. The Phillies' No. 15 prospect turned on the first pitch he saw against right-handed Yankees prospect Cole Ayers, sending it sailing over the right-field wall.

The eventual game-winner backed a strong outing by righty Christian McGowan. Philly's No. 14 prospect allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out four over five innings. McGowan went 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA and 25 strikeouts in eight starts this season. Closer Andrew Walling struck out two and walked two in the final 1 2/3 frames for the win.

Hudson Valley got strong pitching from starter Yorlin Calderon and Joel Valdez. Righty Calderon scattered four hits and a walk and fanned four in 5 2/3 innings. Lefty Valdez followed that up by fanning one over 1 1/3 frames before Jersey Shore got on the scoreboard in the eighth. Box score

Drive 3, Crawdads 2
Pitching took center stage as the best-of-3 semifinals opened between Greenville and Hickory.

Drive southpaw Zach Penrod allowed one run on one hit and four walks while striking out seven in five innings and Crawdads counterpart Jose Corniell whiffed a career-high 10, giving up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and a walk over six frames.

After signing a Minor League contract with Boston on Aug. 16, Penrod went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts for Greenville this year. His playoff start was a strong bounceback performance after the 26-year-old surrendered five runs in his regular-season finale.

The Drive's Allan Castro skied a homer in the top of the fourth inning. The No. 30 Red Sox prospect only homered seven times in 112 games during the regular season.

Kristian Campbell collected an RBI double and Yosy Galan added a run-scoring single for Greenville.

Rangers prospect Daniel Mateo, who tied for the South Atlantic League with nine triples during the season, raced for a three-bagger and scored a run for the Crawdads. Box score