SAL Championship Series – Gnats Drop Game One

Savannah Sand Gnat DH Blake Forsythe homered twice, the second time to break a 3-3 tie in the 8th inning, and LF Alonzo Harris homered and drove in two runs for the Savannah Sand Gnats. But closer LHP Hamilton Bennett, could not protect a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 9th, blowing the save, and the game. As a result, the Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Sand Gnats 5-4 in Game One of the South Atlantic League Championship Series. RF Rafael Fernandez went 3 for 5 with 2 2B’s, and 1B Joe Bonfe was 2 for 4 with 2 2B’s and a run scored, to pace the Sand Gnat attack.

LHP Angel Cuan started for the Gnats but didn’t have his best stuff, starting with the first two batters he faced. The Grasshopper lead-off hitter, 2B Noah Perio doubled, and the next batter RF Marcell Ozuna took Cuan deep for an early 2-0 Greensboro lead. 3B Ryan Fisher hit a bomb off him leading off the fifth inning to tie the score at three, and after Cuan put men on first and second, he was removed with one out. His final line: 4.1 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs on 2 HR’s, and 4 K’s. LHP Chase Huchingson relieved Cuan in the fifth, and tossed 2.2 scoreless, hitless innings, walking one.

RHP Ryan Fraser took over for the 8th, and struck out two, but an error by 3B Aderlin Rodriguez, followed by a single put men on first and second with two outs. Manager Ryan Ellis made a lefty-righty switch and brought in Bennett who struck out Fisher to get out of trouble.

And then came the bottom of the 9th. Bennett started off walking the lead-off batter. With SS Daniel Black trying to sacrifice, he bunted into a force, and he became the baserunner at first. After Perio struck out, Greensboro manager Andy Haines was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Ozuna then walked moving Black to second. Then Bennett balked runners over to second and third before walking LF Christian Yelich to load the bases. Ellis brought in RHP Ronny Morla, and he promptly gave up a single to 1B Mark Canha to drive in Black and Ozuna with the tying and winning runs.

Game Two is slated for Tuesday night in Greensboro, at 7pm. RHP Gonzalez Germen toes the bump for the Gnats, while RHP Robert Morey goes for the Grasshoppers.