Drive Rally Past Asheville, 9-8, on Saturday
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A six-run second inning proved not enough for the Asheville Tourists on Saturday night, as the Greenville Drive used a three-run eighth inning to rally back for a 9-8 victory at McCormick Field.
With the Drive trailing 8-6 in the eight, Kole Cottam drew a lead-off walk, bringing the tying-run to the plate. Tyler Esplin made the most of it, homering to right on the first pitch to score Cottam and tie the game at 8-8. Kervin Suarez later doubled to put the go-ahead run on second with Cole Brannen coming through with a two-out, RBI single to center to give the Drive the 9-8 lead.
Rio Gomez earned his fifth save of the season, keeping the Tourists of the board in their final two at-bats. The lefty struck out the side in the eighth, before working around a one-out single and a two-out walk in the ninth to preserve the lead and the victory.
In the early going, Greenville jumped out to a 4-1 lead with two runs in the first and in the third. An RBI double by Granberg, who later in the inning stole home on a first-third situation, helped give the Drive a 2-0 lead after one. Granberg then homered in the third, his third of the year, with a solo shot to left, followed two batters later by Kole Cottam with a solo home run, his second of the season.
Asheville overcame the deficit with six runs in the bottom of the third. Each of the first seven batters in the inning reached base thanks to three walks and four hits. Hunter Haworth entered to stop the rally, recording three straight outs to end the inning, but not before the home team had taken a 7-4 lead.
The teams traded runs in the fourth to make it an 8-5 game. An RBI groundout by Brannen brought home Marino Campana in the top half. An RBI double by Grant Lavigne knocked in one in the bottom half.
The Drive then added a lone run in the sixth to set the stage for the eight-inning comeback. After a lead-off single by Esplin, Grant Williams later reached on an error that allowed Esplin to score and cut the Asheville to 8-6.
Hunter Haworth (1-3) recorded his first win of the season, allowing just one run on four hits in 5.0 innings of relief work with six strikeouts against two walks. Boby Johnson (1-2) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on three hits and a pair of walks in 1.0 inning of work.
Five Drive hitters managed two hits on the night as part of a 13-hit effort for the road team. Granberg went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs and two RBI to his average to a team-high .309 on the season. Esplin added a 2-for-5 performance with a homer, two runs and two RBI to his credit. Brannen contributed two hits, a walk and two RBI, while Jordan Wren and Suarez collected multi-hit games as well.
The Drive and Tourists continue the series with a 2:05 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. LHP Angel Padron (1-2, 2.79 ERA) takes the ball for Greenville against RHP Ryan Feltner (1-3, 5.08 ERA) for Asheville.
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