July 4, 2009 - South Atlantic League (SAL) - Greenville Drive
Greenville, SC - The Drive (42-35, 3-6) were positioning themselves for a ninth inning rally. Trailing by two runs, it appeared as if Zach Gentile would be stepping up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded.
However, Will Middlebrooks ran through third base coach Billy McMillon\'s stop sign on Pete Hissey\'s single to left, and was gunned down at the plate by Joey August, giving the Sand Gnats (40-40, 5-5) a 4-2 series opening victory.
Greenville found themselves behind 3-0 through the first five and a half innings, after Savannah plated runs in the third and sixth innings of starter Brock Huntzinger (5-5).
The first three batters all reached base for the Sand Gnats in the top of the third, accounting for a pair of runs. Jefry Marte followed Jean Luc Blaquiere\'s leadoff single with a triple, and August added an RBI-single.
Three innings later back-to-back doubles by Eric Campbell and Sean Ratliff pushed across another Savannah run, extending their lead to three runs.
However, in the home half the sixth, the Drive pulled within a run. Pete Hissey bunted his way on and Zach Gentile single to left resulted in an error that put both runners in scoring position with only one out. Ryan Lavarnway drove in Greenville\'s first run on a groundout, and Gentile scored on a wild pitch.
The Sand Gnats regrouped in the top of the seventh, scoring the game\'s final run as reliever Lance McClain experienced control issues. After allowing a leadoff single to Kai Gronauer, the southpaw issued three walks including a free pass to Campbell with the sacks full.
Greenville squandered their best opportunity for a comeback in the bottom of the seventh against Sand Gnats reliever Phillips Orta. Mitch Dening and Middlebrooks began the frame with singles and Ryan Dent loaded the bases when he was hit in the wrist by a pitch.
But the Drive were unable to push across a run as Savannah manager Edgar Alfonzo turned to Jake Goldberg. The right-hander induced a pop out and a line out to the infield, and then a fly out to left to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Drive and Sand Gnats continue their four-game series tomorrow evening with first pitch set for 7:05 PM. Greenville manager Kevin Boles will give the pill to right-hander Stephen Fife (0-2, 1.73 ERA), while Savannah counters with righty Chris Schwinden (4-4, 3.86 ERA).
Although Sunday games start later for the rest of the season, it\'s still Family FunDay at Fluor Field where kids get to run the bases at the conclusion of the game. Single-game tickets, group outings, and luxury accommodations can be purchased by calling (864) 240-4500 or visit www.GreenvilleDrive.com for more information.