KANNAPOLIS, NC - Kannapolis defeated Rome 6-3 in the opening game of their three game series on Friday night as Intimidators starter LHP Taylor Varnell once again held the Braves offense in check.
Facing Rome for the fourth time this season Varnell allowed only one run over 6 innings and outdueled red hot Braves starter RHP Odalvi Javier. Rome managed a late threat in the 8th inning but came up short against the Kannapolis bullpen.
Rome took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Jeremy Fernandez in the 3rd inning. Javier surrendered two runs in the 4th however, and Kannapolis held the lead the rest of the night.
The Intimidators added two unearned runs in the 6th after some throwing miscues by the Braves infield. Trailing 4-1 in the 8th Rome managed their most significant rally of the evening.
Justin Dean and Braden Shewmake both singled and Shea Langeliers walked. With the bases loaded Griffin Benson worked a free pass to bring in a run and Ricardo Rodriguez followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right center, making it 4-3. The Braves were unable to inflict further damage, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the inning.
Kannapolis added two runs off the Rome bullpen in the Bottom of the 8th to increase their lead to 6-3 and held off the Braves in the 9th for the win.
Rome has lost 6 of 8 games at Intimidators Stadium this season. Varnell has allowed only two earned runs in four starts covering 23 innings versus the Braves. Rome has lost all four games against Kannapolis in which Varnell has taken the mound.
Dean went 2-5 on the night. Benson was 0-1 with three walks and an RBI. Shewmake was 1-4 with a run scored. Rodriguez went 1-3 with a double and an RBI. Fernandez was 1-5 with a double and an RBI.
Javier threw 5 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out two while taking the loss. Reliever RHP William Woods went 2.2 innings and allowed three runs, one earned, on three hits. He struck out five and walked one.
Rome and Kannapolis continue their three game series on Saturday evening. Game 2 from Intimidators Stadium is scheduled for 7 pm. Rome will start LHP Dilmer Mejia (5-1, 2.07) while Kannapolis starts RHP Jason Bilous (2-6, 3.92).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.