The Greenville Drive claimed the South Atlantic League South Division Title sweeping the Hickory Crawdads in two games with a 6-3 victory at Fluor Field, Thursday night. Greenville’s victory clinched a spot in the SAL Championship Series which begins Sunday against the winner of SAL North Division Series — either the Hudson Valley Renegades or Jersey Shore Blue Claws. It also marked the fourth Division title in team history as the Drive previously clinched their respective divisions in 2009, 2010, and 2017.
The victory came via a second-inning offensive outburst, flipping the script on game one’s low-scoring affair on Tuesday in Hickory. Starting pitching dominated each team’s respective lineups that night, but tonight the Drive struck early with a five-spot in the bottom of the second to break the game open.
Bryan Gonzalez reached on a fielding error to lead off the second and Tyler Miller walked to put two on for Ronald Rosario who advanced the runners 90-feet on his groundout. Kristian Campbell slapped a single to center to bring in Gonzalez and Miller and put the Drive up 2-1. Two batters later, Eddinson Paulino ripped a double to the left field gap, clearing the bases and putting the Drive up 5-1.
The five-spot chased hard-throwing starter, Emiliano Teodo out of the game after 1.1 innings of work and 49 pitches.
On the flip side, Yordanny Monegro pitched a solid five innings for the Drive, finishing the night allowing two runs on six hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Hickory’s runs came via a Maximo Acosta RBI-single in the first and a Geisel Cepeda RBI-double in the fourth.
Ronald Rosario added another run for the Drive in the sixth, barreling up a pitch into the right field gap to bring in Miller all the way from first. From there, the trio of Robert Kwiatkowski, Frank German, and Brock Bell shut the door on the Crawdads.
Kwiatkowski spun the sixth and seventh, allowing just one hit while ringing up three. German dominated again as he did on Tuesday, striking out the side in the eighth while Brock Bell allowed two hits, one run on a sacrifice-fly in the ninth and two strikeouts in the ninth to preserve the Drive victory.
The Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox) return to action on Sunday, September 17 in the South Atlantic League Championship Series against the winner of game three of the North Division Series between the Hudson Valley Renegades and the Jersey Shore Blue Claws. Game one of the Championship Series will be on the road while game two and game three, if necessary, will be held at Fluor Field on September 19 and September 20.