KANNAPOLIS, NC - The Rome Braves enjoyed their most successful offensive game of the season on Wednesday night against Kannapolis and then held off a furious late rally from the Intimidators to win the series finale 13-11. Rome led by eight runs in the 8th inning and secured the final out of the game with the tying run on base in the Bottom of the 9th as Jake Higginbotham slammed the door.
The win gave Rome five victories in seven games on their week-long road trip through the Carolinas and kept them one game back of 1st place Augusta in the Southern Division.
Rome once again began their night with immediate lineup success as Justin Dean reached base on a walk and then scored on an RBI double from Greg Cullen. Jeremy Fernandez brought in Cullen on an RBI double and the Braves led 2-0. Kannapolis responded with four unearned runs in the Bottom of the 1st inning thanks in large part to two Braves fielding errors.
Trailing 4-2 the Rome bats began to stir once more, getting an RBI double from Griffin Benson in the 3rd and pulling back into the lead for good in the 5th with four more runs. Benson and Fernandez both delivered RBI hits in the frame. After adding another run in the 6th on a Cullen RBI single the Braves opened up an 8-5 advantage. They appeared to put the game out of reach with 5 more runs in the 8th inning. During that rally the Braves sent 11 men to the plate. Braden Shewmake highlighted the scoring with a two run double off the wall in deep left field.
Once the dust settled the Braves had a 13-5 edge and needed only six outs to put the win on ice. Finishing off Kannapolis would not prove to be easy.
The Intimidators got a two run homer from Corey Zangari in the Bottom of the 8th to make it 13-7. Looking to close it out in the 9th Rome kicked a couple of groundballs before a three run triple made it 13-10. Higginbotham was summoned with the score 13-11 and a man on base with nobody out. He walked the first batter he faced but then struck out the next two. With the tying run on base the former Clemson lefty induced a game-ending grounder to short and Rome escaped with the win.
The victory snapped a five game losing streak for Rome at Intimidators Stadium, a skid which included a quartet of one run defeats. At one point in Wednesday's game Rome scored 10 unanswered runs.
The 13 runs and 17 hits are both new season-best totals for the Rome offense.
Cullen finished the night going 4-5 with a double, two RBI and a walk. Shewmake was 3-5 with a double, two RBI and a walk. Dean was 2-3 with two walks and a stolen base. Fernandez was 3-6 with a double and four RBI and Benson was 2-5 with a double and two RBI. Rangel got the win for 5 innings of work. He allowed five runs, one earned, on five hits. He struck out three and walked two. Higginbotham got the save, throwing 1 scoreless inning and allowing no hits. He struck out two and walked one.
Dean extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Rome concludes its road trip and returns home to open a four game series with the rival Asheville Tourists on Thursday evening. First pitch of Game 1 from State Mutual Stadium is scheduled for 7 pm. Rome will start LHP Gabriel Noguera.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.