Drive Denied Championship

Greenville, SC – The South Atlantic League Championship Series will go on for at least one more day, as the Kannapolis Intimidators took a lead in the middle innings and held on late to defeat the Greenville Drive 5-4 on Thursday at Fluor Field.  The Drive still have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

The Intimidators took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third.  Zach Remillard hit a one-out single up the middle for the team’s first hit.  After stealing second and moving to third when the throw sailed into center field, he came in to score on a groundout by Alex Call.

Ryan Scott put the Drive on the board in the bottom of the fourth, as he smacked a two-run homer 416 feet to right-center field off Blake Hickman to score Bobby Dalbec, who singled with two outs.

The Drive’s 2-1 lead was short-lived, as Kannapolis scored three times in the fifth to go ahead for good.  Call belted an RBI triple off the right-center fence to plate Remillard, who hit a one-out single off Bryan Mata.  Blake Rutherford then hit a grounder to second base, but Call slid in just under the tag at home plate to put Kannapolis on top.  Rutherford scooted to third on Willy Garcia’s single, and he came in for the third run when Garcia got hung up in a lengthy rundown between first and second.

A sixth-inning sacrifice fly by Evan Skoug proved to be a crucial run for the Intimidators, as the Drive made a valiant comeback attempt in the seventh.

After walks by Tyler Hill and Tucker Tubbs led off the seventh, Jagger Rusconi dropped down a beautiful bunt single to load the bases with no outs.  Santiago Espinal then plated Hill on a fielder’s choice, and later in the inning a two-out grounder by Pedro Castellanos was booted at first base to trim the Kannapolis lead to one.  Kevin Escorcia bore down and got Dalbec to ground out to end the threat.

Matthew Foster recorded the final five outs for the Intimidators to nail down the save.

The Drive received strong relief work by Robby Sexton, who allowed just one run over three and two-third innings with four strikeouts.  Joan Martinez followed Sexton with a scoreless ninth.

Scott went 2-4 with a pair of RBI for Greenville.

The Drive are still just one win away from their first South Atlantic League championship, and game four of the series begins at 7:05 on Friday night at Fluor Field.  Right-hander Hildemaro Requena looks to continue his recent dominance on the mound and give the Drive a title on Friday, and the Intimidators will start left-hander John Parke, a Greenville High School and University of South Carolina product.