Kannapolis' Comeback Falls Short Wednesday Night against the Woodies
Kannapolis, N.C. - Despite a big third inning at the plate to overcome a six-run hole, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (0-2) fell Wednesday to the Down East Wood Ducks (2-0) by a final score of 8-7 at Atrium Health Ballpark.
RHP Jared Kelley got the start on the mound for the Cannon Ballers. The 2020 2nd round draft selection and No.4 prospect in the White Sox organization struggled early on the mound, going 0.2 innings, giving up four runs and two walks, striking out three. RHP Marcus Evey entered in relief of Kelley in the top of the first inning. The Tennessee Tech product pitched 2.1 innings, striking out two Wood Ducks and allowing two runs on two hits.
Down East jumped out ahead early in the first inning when leadoff batter Evan Carter scored on a Kelley balk to make it a 1-0 ballgame. Following the balk, Marcus Smith smacked an RBI triple to left field to drive in Luisangel Acuna to make it 2-0 Down East. Three batters later, a throwing error by Kannapolis catcher Daniel Millwee permitted Smith and Xavier Valentin to cross the plate, giving the Wood Ducks a 4-0 advantage.
The struggles on defense continued for the Ballers in the top of the second. After two early singles, Acuna reached first base on a fielding error by Samil Polanco, allowing Jayce Easley and Carter score to make it a 6-0 lead for the Wood Ducks.
Despite a rough start in the field, Kannapolis put together an offensive outburst in the bottom of the third frame. After a single, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch, James Beard stepped to the plate. On a 1-0 count, Beard cranked a high fly ball into right field that ended up carrying over the fence for the first grand slam in Cannon Ballers history, cutting into the deficit, 6-4. Following Beard's grand slam, four batters later, D.J. Gladney tallied an RBI double to score Jose Rodriguez, making it a 6-5 ballgame.
Kannapolis tied the ballgame later in the third when Millwee scored Chase Krogman on a swinging bunt to tie the game, 6-6.
RHP Wyatt Sparks was given the start for Down East. The Missouri native went 2.1 innings, allowing five hits, six earned runs, one walk, and striking out three Cannon Ballers. LHP Josh Smith followed in relief, pitching for 1.2 innings, striking out three and allowing three hits.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Kannapolis took the lead on another offensive stretch when Bryan Ramos knocked an RBI in on a groundout to score Beard, making it a 7-6 Ballers lead.
The Wood Ducks answered back in the top of the fifth off a Cristian Inoa RBI single, scoring Harris to knot the matchup at 7-7.
Bullpen arms kept the game close for the Cannon Ballers. In the sixth, Martin Carrasco produced a three-up, three-down appearance. Then, in the seventh frame, Brandon Jenkins shook off a leadoff single to get through the seventh. In the eighth inning, Sammy Peralta got two early outs, fought through three walks, then struck out Harris to send the ballgame to the bottom of the eighth.
The tie was broken in the top of the ninth inning when a defensive miscommunication allowed Xavier Valentin to cross the plate, making it an 8-7 game, advantage Wood Ducks.
The Cannon Ballers will look to avoid the three-game losing streak on Thursday in the third of six matchups this week with the Down East Wood Ducks. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m.
RHP Chase Solesky (0-0, 0.00) will get the nod for Kannapolis to face Down East's RHP Dane Acker in the Thirsty Thursday showdown. Limited tickets are available for Thursday's game and can be purchased at kcballers.com or in-person at the F&M Bank Box Office located on West Avenue.
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