Stretch Run Report: SAL Playoffs – Savannah Sand Gnats
All the Sand Gnats had to do to get to the playoffs this year, was win either the first-half, or second-half championship, in the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League. Well guess what? They won both the first and second half titles! And currently they have the second-best overall W-L record in the whole league, at 79-58. Only the Northern Division champs, Hickory, has a better record at 79-57.
Congratulations to the Savannah Sand Gnats, 2011 South Atlantic League Southern Division 1st and 2nd Half Champions! Wow, will that even fit on a t-shirt? If they win the first round, you can take out the “1st and 2nd Half” part.
The Gnats have been a NY Mets farm team, low-A classification, since 2007. Since then they have only appeared in the playoffs one time, last year, when they won the first-half division title. They then lost in the first round to the Greenville Drive (Red Sox).
This year the first round of the Southern Division playoffs will feature a rematch of those two teams, with the Drive solidly entrenched in 2nd place in the overall standings.
Lefty Angel Cuan with a 10-3 record and a 3.56 ERA, and Taylor Whitenton, whose 2.51 ERA is second in the league, along with 8-game winner Yohan Almonte (3.91 ERA), lead a pitching staff which also boasts four 7-game winners. As a pitching staff, Savannah is first in the SAL in the following categories: Wins (tied), ERA, Shutouts, Saves, fewest Hits, Runs and ER’s, and best WHIP. Wow that’s some pretty good pitching. Props to pitching coach Glenn Abbott.
The hitting attack starts with top prospect 3B Aderlin Rodriguez, who despite a down year with the bat (.222 BA), has managed to hit 17 HR’s and drive in 77 runs. Other top prospects on the Gnats are: CF Darrell Ceciliani, SS Wilfredo Tovar, and catcher Albert Cordero. The Gnats also added substantial firepower by bringing in some “ringers” over the last few days. Just added for the playoff push were: C Cam Maron, SS Juan Carlos Gamboa, and OF Dustin Lawley.
The Gnats end their regular season Monday with their game against Lexington, then the best-of-three playoff series is slated to begin on Wednesday. The team is managed by Ryan Ellis, and plays their home games in historic Grayson Stadium, which opened in 1927, and seats 4,700 fans.
About the Author: Peter Shapiro
The first time I went to Shea was not for a Mets game, it was for the Beatles concert there in August of '66. My first Met game was '67, a guy named Salty Parker was the interim-manager then. My first pennant race was 1969. As a 12 year-old that summer and fall, I managed to get to the park for 3 games. The first was the beginning of the Miracle which actually started on Tuesday July 8, 1969 with a day game against the Cubs. I was there a lot in '73. I saw games 3 & 5 of the 1973 NL Playoffs against the "Big Red Machine", from the upper deck behind home plate. It was from there that I witnessed the fight between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, and the mayhem that ensued. And that sweet victory in game 5! I saw a couple of WS games at Shea that year against that legendary Oakland A's club. I was there in 1985 for every single game Dr. K pitched including his two 16 strikeout performances, and the day he one-hit the Cubs on an infield single and the Mets won 1-0. I loved being a Met fan in those days. Hopefully we are once again preparing to emerge from the darkness.
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Last updated: 05/18/2013
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