KANNAPOLIS – Enduring a weather system that pushed part of last Friday’s game into Saturday morning, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers endured many challenges en route to a split series with the Down East Wood Ducks at Atrium Health Ballpark. It is the second straight split of a series on the year for Kannapolis, second split of a series with the Wood Ducks and the team’s third split of a six-game series in total.
Walk it (off) like I talk it
The Ballers’ first win of the series vs. Down East came on Education Day, when more than 4,000 school children and teachers packed Atrium Health Ballpark for an 11 a.m. matchup. IF/OF DJ Gladney stepped up in a big way on Education Day, ending the day with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Nick Thornquist and clinch a 5-4 victory.
A Smelley deuce of homers
C/DH Colby Smelley tallied his first two home runs as a Cannon Baller in the victory on Cinco De Mayo, pushing Kannapolis ahead for a 5-2 victory. In total, Kannapolis pulled together for a team total of four home runs. Two from Smelley, one from IF Wilber Sanchez, and one from OF James Beard gave the Ballers a nice spark on offense.
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The bullpen came up clutch for Kannapolis as well, getting clean innings from RHPs Adisyn Coffey and Chase Plymell to help shut down the Wood Ducks late in the game.
Saturdays are for splits
After last Friday night’s ballgame was littered with rain showers, the two sides resumed action in a makeshift doubleheader. Down East led the game when it was halted on Friday evening, but Kannapolis fought back, backed by two home runs from Gladney and a go-ahead RBI single from IF Wilfred Veras.
On to the next
The Fredericksburg Nationals, Low-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are coming off a planned six-game series with Lynchburg, in which the two sides were only able to play five innings due to extreme weather conditions in Virginia.
Fredericksburg sits on top of the Carolina League North Division at 17-9, second in the Carolina League only to Myrtle Beach. The Nationals are on top of many categories in the Carolina League on offense, including home runs, RBI, and walks.
The FredNats hold a whopping 11 of the top 30 prospects in the Nationals organization in IF Brady House (No. 2), RHP Jackson Rutledge (No. 4), RHP Andry Lara (No. 6), OF Jeremy De La Rosa (No. 14), IF Branden Boissiere (No. 17), C Drew Millas (No. 20), IF Sammy Infante (No. 21), LHP Dustin Saenz (No. 24), OF T.J. White (No. 27), INF Yoander Rivero (No. 29), and RHP Mason Denaburg (No. 30).
House is currently second on the team in batting average at .326 with 29 hits and 24 RBI. Rutledge made his first start of 2022 this past week vs. Lynchburg, allowing five runs in three innings. Lara holds a 0-2 record with a 6.11 ERA, struggling in his start vs. Kannapolis back on April 24. De La Rosa is second on the team in home runs with six. Boissiere is batting .250 with 12 RBI on the season so far. Millas joined the FredNats on a rehab stint when the team was in Kannapolis, staying put on the roster for the time being.
Infante is the only batter who has more home runs than De La Rosa, blasting seven in 20 games. Saenz holds a 2-0 record with a 3.74 ERA in four starts. 18-year-old White has two home runs and three RBI in his 13 games in 2022. Rivero owns a .244 batting line with no home runs and eight RBI. Finally, Denaburg is listed on the injured list for manager Jake Lowery and the Nationals.
The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers will be on the road for a six-game series with the Fredericksburg Nationals, Low-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, May 10-15. The Ballers return home May 17-22 for a six-game series with the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Low-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, at Atrium Health Ballpark.
Tickets can be purchased for any upcoming home games at kcballers.com or at the F&M Bank Box Office located at Atrium Health Ballpark. Fans can also keep up with the action on the team’s social media outlets, with live in-game updates being provided on Twitter at @kcannonballers. All Cannon Ballers home games, as well as select road games, will have a free audio broadcast on kcballers.com, with all home games also being broadcasted on MiLB.tv.