August 23, 2019–7:00 a.m.
Rehabbing big leaguer Dansby Swanson was in the house and in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale as Rome crushed Kannapolis 14-4 at State Mutual Stadium. The game was tight until Rome blew things wide open with 9 runs in the 7th inning against an over-matched Intimidators bullpen.
Following a rain delay of over an hour, Kannapolis took a pair of early leads thanks to a trio of homers. Those leads were each erased quickly by the Rome offense. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the 1st inning, Rome tied it on a Bryce Ball double and an RBI single from Michael Harris.
Trailing 4-2 in the 4th inning the Braves would strike for three runs and take the lead for good. Ricardo Rodriguez and Jeremy Fernandez each drove in runs with singles and Swanson broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI single into left, scoring Brendan Venter and putting Rome in front 5-4.
Still up by one the Braves ended any suspense with their huge offensive outburst in the 7th inning. Rome batted around in the frame, and then some. They eventually sent 14 hitters to the plate. Rodriguez, Fernandez, Carlos Paraguate, Justin Dean, Greg Cullen, and Ball each had an RBI hit during the attack. With two outs in the inning, eight straight Braves batters reached base. By the time the rally came to an end, Kannapolis had gone through three pitchers and Rome had its most productive inning of the season.
Leading 14-4, the Rome bullpen easily recorded the final six outs behind LHP Jake Higginbotham and RHP Ryan Shetter and the Braves took the game and the series.
Swanson finished 3-4 with a walk and an RBI. He’s expected to remain at State Mutual Stadium for more rehab work this weekend and be joined by Austin Riley in the Rome lineup on Friday evening.
Rodriguez went 3-5 with three RBI. Ball was 2-4 with a double, walk and two RBI. Fernandez went 2-5 with two RBI. Harris was 2-5 with a triple and an RBI.
Rome starter LHP Dilmer Mejia got the win. He threw 5 innings and surrendered four runs on eight hits. Mejia struck out five and did not walk a batter. Higginbotham went 3 innings, allowing no runs and two hits. He struck out three and walked two. Shetter completed a 1-2-3 9th inning to cap the long evening.
Rome was an incredible 11-18 with runners in scoring position and drove in 11 runs with two outs.
Rome continues its homestand with a three-game series against the Columbia Fireflies beginning Friday night. First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 7 pm from State Mutual Stadium. Rome is expected to start RHP Alan Rangel (10-7, 4.51).
Rome Braves (30-29, 60-68) 14 R 15 H 1 E
Kannapolis Intimidators (28-31, 56-71) 4 R 10 H 3 E
W: Dilmer Mejia (8-3)
L: Johan Dominguez (4-5)
Time: 3:11 (1:10 delay)