Posted by Mack Ade at 2:00 PM
The Asheville Tourists bats did damage early, and then a rain delay in the sixth inning made it a long night as the Tourists defeated the Savannah Sand Gnats 8-3 in game one of the South Atlantic League Southern Division Championship series. Game two will be in Savannah night.
The Gnats grabbed a lead four pitches into the game, when centerfielder Champ Stuart took Kyle Freeland deep to give the Gnats a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Stuart had a big night for the Gnats’ offensively, going 4-for-5 with a double in the ninth, his homer, and two runs scored.
The Tourists answered back with three runs in the bottom of the first inning against Savannah starter Robert Gsellman. After the first three batters reached base on two singles and a walk, first baseman Correlle Prime tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right field. Two batters later, catcherJose Briceno doubled to the base of the centerfield wall, to bring home two and put the Tourists ahead 3-1.
The Gnats got a run back in the top of the fourth to make the score 3-2, when DH Matt Oberste singled, went to second on rightfielder Victor Cruzado’s double and scored on Amed Rosario’s groundout.
The Tourists chased Gsellman with two runs in the fifth on RBI singles from third baseman Ryan McMahon and Briceno.
Savannah turned to reliever Paul Paez in the sixth, but he gave up three runs, including on a ringing two-run homerun by David Dahl to make the score 8-2 before the rains came. Dahl was 3-for-4 for Asheville, with a home run, a double, two runs scored and two RBI.
A two-hour and 13-minute rain delay halted play with Asheville leading 8-2 in the sixth.
In his Sand Gnats debut, Mets’ 2014 first round pick Michael Conforto was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
The Southern Division Championship Series will return to Savannah , for game two of the best-of-three series. The Gnats will send RHP John Gant (11-5, 2.56- regular season) to the mound against RHP Antonio Senzatela (15-2, 3.11) trying to force a decisive third game at home on . First pitch is scheduled for . Gates to Historic Grayson Stadium open at . The radio pre-game show on News/Talk 630 WBMQ, online at sandgnats.com and via TuneIn radio begins at . - team press release