SAVANNAH, GA – Cesar Puello lined a single into right center field to drive home Kai Gronauer with the winning run in the tenth inning to complete the Gnats' comeback in an 8-7 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators Tuesday night at Historic Grayson Stadium. The Gnats have won three straight games. The Augusta GreenJackets lost 4-1 in Greenville, so the Gnats (35-25) moved one game out of first place with ten games to play in the first half.
The Gnats trailed 7-6 going to the bottom of the ninth. Puello was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and advanced to third on a throwing error on reliever Brandon Kloess. He scored to tie the game at 7-7 on 3B Luis Rivera's bloop single into shallow center field. Savannah then loaded the bases for SS Wilmer Flores who hit a shot up the middle that looked like the game winner. However, the ball bounced off Kloess's arm, right to Kannapolis 3B Rafael Vera who fired a strike home to force out Rivera.
The Gnats built a 5-1 lead through three innings, but Kannapolis (28-31) evened the score at 5-5 with four runs charged to starter Jimmy Fuller in the fourth inning. Fuller did not retire any one of the first six batters to face him in the inning. Sammy Martinez, in his first Sand Gnats' outing of 2010, entered for Fuller with the score 5-4 and the bases loaded with no outs. Martinez yielded just a sacrifice fly to tie the game, but retired the next two batters on infield pop ups to keep the game even at 5-5. Fuller, who entered the day fourth in the SAL in ERA, gave up five runs, four earned, in just three innings, his shortest start of the year, and the first time he failed to finish five innings.
The Intimidators used a double, a triple and an RBI groundout against Martinez to take a 7-5 lead in the sixth inning.
Savannah answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Gronauer singled, and Rafael Fernandez doubled him home to make the score 7-6. However, Fernandez was thrown out at third trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
Juan Lagares was 1-4 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and Pedro Zapata was a similar 1-4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
The Gnats are off Wednesday, and return to action on Thursday in Greensboro to begin a three-game series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers at 7 pm. All-Star LHP Mark Cohoon (5-1, 1.62) for Savannah takes on RHP Matt Montgomery (4-6, 3.23) for Greensboro.