Game Notes 7/29/14: Last game in Lakewood, Hammerin’ Hayes, Morris does doubles…

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS
50-55, 21-17 (Chicago White Sox)          41-66, 14-24 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 – 11:05 a.m.
FirstEnergy Park – Lakewood, N.J.
2nd Half Game #39 (106 of 137)
RH Thad Lowry (4-4, 4.33) vs. LH Yoel Mecias (1-0, 0.90)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) look to close out this 5-game series against the BlueClaws (A, Phillies) in a day-game today at FirstEnergy Park. Kannapolis has won three straight games in Lakewood after dropping the series-opener on Saturday, the fourth 3 winning streak of at least 3-games for the Intimidators in the Second Half of the season. Today 19-year-old right hander Thad Lowry makes his first career start against a Phillies affiliate while Yoel Mecias, who was scheduled to face the Intimidators in Kannapolis before the game on July 21 was rained out, finally toes the rubber against the Intimidators.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (21-17) gained a game on first-place Greensboro (24-14) and Hagerstown (24-14) by winning a third straight game on Monday in Lakewood. The Intimidators are now 3.0 games out of first, in fourth in the South Atlantic League Northern Division standings, also trailing Hickory (22-16). The BlueClaws (14-24) remain seventh in the 7-team Northern Division, 10.0 games back in the Second Half.

Intimidating Starter: Thad Lowry, 19, makes his 13th start and eighth on the road. He is coming off of three straight no decisions and allowed four runs on nine hits over 6.0 innings in his last outing on July 24 in Hagerstown. He has been roughed up on the road, going 1-2 with a 6.12 ERA (22 ER/32.1 IP) in seven starts compared to 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA (7 ER/28 IP) in five starts in Kannapolis. He is two starts removed from striking out a career-high six batters at Augusta on July 17. Lowry opened his season 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA in three starts in May but opened a strong stretch with a complete game no-hitter in a rain-shortened 5-inning contest at West Virginia on June 3. It was the first complete game no-hitter for Kannapolis since June 10, 2003, when Brian Miller no-hit the Greensboro Grasshoppers. In June and July, Lowry is 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA (20 ER/49.2 IP) in nine starts. The White Sox selected Lowry in the fifth round of the June 2013 draft, and he went 3-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 15 games (7 starts).

BlueClaw on the Bump: Yoel Mecias, 20, makes his third start since returning to Lakewood and his seventh of the season after returning to the mound with the GCL Phillies in late June. Mecias, who pitched for the BlueClaws to open the 2013 campaign, made four starts in the GCL this season, going 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA before returning to the Sally League with 5.0 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in a road win at Hickory on July 15. He followed that up with another 5.0-inning outing on July 23 against Greenville, limiting the Drive to a run over 5.0 innings. Last year with Lakewood, Mecias went 4-3 with a 3.79 ERA with one save in one opportunity over 13 games (11 starts). He struck out 70 batters over 57.0 IP before seeing his season end after at June 22 start at West Virginia. This is Mecias’ first appearance against Kannapolis.

About Last Night: Kannapolis overcame an early deficit as three pitchers combined to shutout the BlueClaws over the final eight innings in a win, 5-3, on Monday. Brandon Brennan recovered from a 3-run first inning to toss five scoreless frames. He finished with 6.0 innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Dylan Chavez took over in the seventh and tossed 2.0 scoreless frames before Brad Salgado struck out the side in order in the bottom of the ninth for the save (2).  Ryan Leonards finished 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and Zach Voight collected a pair of hits, going 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored. The Intimidators pulled ahead with two runs in the sixth inning.  Jeremy Dowdy and Carl Thomore each hit 1-out singles, and Voight followed with a double down the left-field line to cash Dowdy for a 4-3 lead.  Leonards then lifted a fly ball to deep right field, scoring Thomore for a 5-3 advantage, but Voight was thrown out at home, trying to take advantage of a lax throw from the outfield on the play. After Brennan struck out the first two batters in the first inning, Lakewood rallied for three runs with two out, including a 2-run triple by Mitch Walding. Danny Hayes put the Intimidators on the board with his team-leading 10th home run of the season to lead of the fourth inning. Kannapolis tied the game in the fifth. Voight, Leonards and Adam Engel loaded the bases with three straight singles to open the inning.  Back-to-back fielder’s choice ground balls by Christian Stringer and Trey Michalczewski scored Voight and Leonards to even the score, 3-3.

Comeback Boys: Kannapolis matched its largest deficit overcome this season on Monday after coming back from a 3-run hole against Lakewood for a 5-3 win. The BlueClaws opened up an early 3-0 lead with a 3-run first inning, but Kannapolis scores five unanswered runs over the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, equaling a 3-run deficit that the team overcame on July 7 at Greensboro in a 12-8 win.

Hammerin’ Hayes: Danny Hayes hit home runs in back to games against Lakewood, going yard in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader as well as on Monday. Hayes now leads the Intimidators with 10 home runs, just ahead of Trey Michalczewski. Kannapolis is 8-2 when Hayes homers. It’s the seventh time an Intimidators player hit home runs in consecutive games this season and the second time that Hayes has accomplished the feat, also hitting home runs in games June 24-25. Hayes is the SAL leader with 58 walks and he ranks fourth on the circuit in on-base percentage (.392).

Double Trouble: Jacob Morris doubled on Monday, his fourth double of the road trip. He leads the Intimidators and ranks fourth in the SAL with 27 doubles. He has seven doubles in the last 10 games.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Game Notes 7/28/14: Brennan back on the bump to battle the BlueClaws

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS
49-55, 19-17 (Chicago White Sox) 41-65, 14-23 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Monday, July 28, 2014 – 7:05 p.m.
FirstEnergy Park – Lakewood, N.J.
2nd Half Game #38 (105 of 137)
RH Brandon Brennan (1-0, 1.54) vs. RH Tyler Viza (3-13, 5.01)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) looks to keep momentum from Sunday’s doubleheader sweep when facing the BlueClaws (A, Phillies) in Game 4 of this 5-game series. Kannapolis, which used solid starting pitching in both games of the twin bill, turns to another steady starter in Brandon Brennan, who is picking up this season where he left off in 2013 when an injury cut short his campaign. The right-handed hurler is dueling Lakewood’s Tyler Viza, the South Atlantic League leader in losses, as Kannapolis looks to clinch a series win with a victory today.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (20-17) gained a half-game on first-place Greensboro (24-13) by sweeping the doubleheader on Sunday in Lakewood. The Intimidators are now 4.0 games out of first place, in fourth in the South Atlantic League Northern Division standings, also trailing Hagerstown (23-14) and Hickory (21-16). The BlueClaws (14-23) remain seventh in the 7-team Northern Division, 10.0 games back in the Second Half.

Intimidators Starter: Brandon Brennan, 23, makes his third start for Kannapolis since rejoining the team from Great Falls on July 15. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif., native is coming off a win at Hagerstown on July 23, limiting the Suns to one run over 5.2 innings. He has continued to show great progress in his return from an elbow injury that cut short his 2013 season. In his last five starts in the South Atlantic League, including his final three starts of 2013 and first two games with Kannapolis this year, Brennan is now 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA (3 ER/31.0) dating back to last June. This season, between his time in the Advanced Rookie Pioneer League and the Sally, Brennan is 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA (9 ER/31.1) in seven starts. An elbow injury ended his 2013 season after 15 starts with Kannapolis in which he went 4-9 with a 5.53 ERA (50 ER/81.1 IP), however, the progress Brennan made during the season spoke for itself. After opening the season 1-8 with a 7.88 ERA (42 ER/ 48 IP) in 10 starts over April and May, the Orange Coast College standout went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA (8 ER/33.1 IP) in five starts in June. The White Sox selected Brennan in the fourth round of the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

BlueClaw on the Bump: Tyler Viza, 19, makes his 20th start of the season and second straight against Kannapolis. He took no decision in his most recent start against the Intimidators on July 20, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits over 5.0 innings at CMC-NorthEast Stadium. He also faced the Intimidators on May 9, pitching 4.0 scoreless innings in the fogged-out game. Because the game was cancelled, all stats from that night do not count. After the May 9 outing, Viza lost 11 of his next 12 starts, surging to the front of the South Atlantic League with 13 losses. He suffered losses in nine straight starts from May 14 to June 28. He is winless on the road, going 0-7 with a 5.62 ERA in nine starts compared to a 3-6 record and 4.83 ERA in 10 starts at FirstEnergy Park. Viza is making his professional debut this season after the Phillies drafted him in the 32nd round of the June 2013 First-Year Draft out of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz.

About Last Night: The Intimidators swept Sunday’s doubleheader in Lakewood, taking Game 1, 7-3, and overcoming a late blown lead to claim Game 2 in extra innings, 6-3 (F/9). In the first game, Jeff McKenzie worked all 7.0 innings for a complete game win. Danny Hayes led the offense with a pair of RBI-singles, going 2-4 with 2 RBI, and the Intimidators, which led 1-0 most of the game, erupted for six runs in the sixth inning. Jeremy dowdy was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and Trey Michalczewski chipped in an RBI-triple. In the second game, Kannapolis led 3-1 after a 3-run fourth inning, highlighted by a Hayes 2-run home run (9), but the BlueClaws came back and eventually tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a Mitch Walding home run off Jose Brito. Adam Engel’s 2-run triple in the ninth put Kannapolis back in front for good, and Brito (2-1) tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn the win.

You Complete Me: Jeff McKenzie tossed his first career complete game on Sunday in the first game of the twin bill, working all 7.0 innings for Kannapolis. It was the fifth complete game thrown by an Intimidators pitcher this season and the first since Robinson Leyer on July 8 in Greensboro. The other Kannapolis starters to throw complete games in 2014 are James Dykstra (April 15 in Hickory), Jake Sanchez (June 1 vs. Hagerstown – Game 1), and Thad Lowry (no-hitter June 3 at West Virginia). McKenzie matched his career-high with 7.0 innings of work, a mark set in a tough-luck loss on July 9 in Greensboro. The White Sox selected the southpaw in the 28th round of the June 2013 First-Year Draft out of Cal State Bakersfield following a season in which he was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Pack-ing a Punch: Brett Austin, a former N.C. State catcher whom the White Sox drafted in the fourth round of the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft, kept his bat hot by going 2-4 in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. He is 5-8 for the series, including his first career 3-hit game on Saturday night. Austin upped his average to .287 (25-87) and he has hit safely in 19 of his 24 professional games. The former Wolfpack catcher hit .344 this past season at N.C. State.

Extra Incentive: Kannapolis earned its first extra-inning win in more than two months on Sunday in the second game of the doubleheader, beating the BlueClaws 6-3 (F/9). The Intimidators last extra-inning win came May 18 against Hickory, a 6-5 win in 10 innings. Kannapolis is now 3-9 in extra-inning games and 2-7 on the road. The Intimidators only other road extra-inning win came on April 16 at Hickory, a 4-3 win in 12 innings.

Willie Mays Hayes: In addition to slugging his team-lead-tying ninth home run of the season during Sunday’s twin bill, first baseman Danny Hayes stole his first base of the second during the Intimidators 6-run inning in Game 1. With a full count to Jacob Morris, Hayes broke for second on the 3-2 pitch from Delvi Francisco, who struck out Morris, but Hayes slid into second ahead of the throw, keeping alive the Intimidators rally. Hayes went 3-8 with 4 RBI in the doubleheader.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Game Notes 7/27/14: Twin bill off the turnpike, and Engel’s streak ends

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS
47-55, 18-17 (Chicago White Sox)        41-63, 14-21 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Sunday, July 27, 2014 – 3:05 p.m. – Doubleheader
FirstEnergy Park – Lakewood, N.J.
2nd Half Games #36 & #37 (103 & 104 of 137)
LH Jeff McKenzie (1-2, 5.00) vs. LH Matt Imhof (0-0, 6.00)
RH Tyler Barnette (2-7, 5.86) vs. RH Julio Reyes (2-3, 3.96)

lwdToday’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) take the field for a doubleheader against the BlueClaws (A, Phillies) as lefty Jeff McKenzie takes the mound in Game 1 and former Charlotte 49ers hurler Tyler Barnette starts in Game 2. The BlueClaws took Saturday’s series opener with a 4-3 walk-off victory, handing Kannapolis its third straight loss. Kannapolis and Lakewood play a doubleheader today as a result of a rainout on Monday in Kannapolis. The Intimidators are 8-8 in doubleheader games this season while the BlueClaws are 5-4. Kannapolis leads the season-series 4-2 over Lakewood.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (18-17) remains in fourth in the SAL Northern Division 2nd Half Standings after three straight losses, 4.5 games back of both Greensboro and Hagerstown, who are tied for first in the Division (23-13). The BlueClaws are 8.0 games back in the SAL Northern Division, seventh in the 7-team division.

Intimidators Starter: Jeff McKenzie, 23, makes his sixth start for the Intimidators and second straight against Lakewood. He gave up career highs with six runs on 12 hits over 5.2 innings in a no decision on July 20. Prior to that rough outing, he tossed 6.0 scoreless innings in a no decision at Augusta on July 15, an eventual 12-inning loss, 7-6, for Kannapolis. McKenzie made two starts with Advanced Rookie Great Falls to open this season, going 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA before earning a promotion to Kannapolis on June 25. In seven starts this season between the Voyagers and the Intimidators, he is 2-2 with a 3.96 (17 ER/38.2 IP). He made his professional debut in 2013, working in the Voyagers bullpen and going 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA (4 ER/25 IP) in 16 games, converting all six save chances. The White Sox drafted McKenzie in the 28th round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal State Bakersfield, where he was college teammates with Intimidators infielder Tyler Shryock. McKenzie was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year and became CSU Bakersfield’s first All-American baseball player by going 13-2 with a 1.88 ERA (24 ER/114.2 IP), six complete games (four shutouts) and 88 strikeouts in 2013.

Going In Game 2: Tyler Barnette, 22, makes his 11th start and second against the BlueClaws in Game 2 of today’s doubleheader. He has worked out of the bullpen in his last three outings, returning to the relief role that he held to open the season. He is 0-2 with a 1.19 ERA (3 ER/22.2 IP) in 10 relief appearances compared to 2-5 with a 8.31 ERA (40 ER/43.1 IP) in 10 starts. Barnette makes this spot start, his first start since a string of 10 starts in 12 appearances from April 29 through July 11. He has been better on the road than at home, going 1-2 with a 4.79 ERA in 10 away games (five starts) compared to 1-5 with a 7.12 ERA in 10 games (five starts) in Kannapolis. The White Sox selected him in the 14th round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of UNC Charlotte, where he was named Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year in 2011 with the Charlotte 49ers.

BlueClaw on the Bump: Matt Imhof, the Phillies second round pick (47th overall) in the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal Poly, makes his second Class A start and second straight against Kannapolis – his sixth of the season. He worked 3.0 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits against Kannapolis on July 19. He made his professional debut on June 27 with the GCL Phillies, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings. Imhof’s next three appearances came with Short-Season Williamsport. He earned his first professional win July 13 against Tri-City with 5.0 scoreless innings, and is now 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA (1 ER/15.0 IP) with 13 strikeouts and five walks in four starts. In five professional starts, Imhof is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (4 ER/18 IP) with 16 strikeouts and six walks. The Hayward, Calif., native enjoyed a stellar career at Cal Poly, going 18-7 with a 2.69 ERA in 48 games (35 starts) over three seasons.

Twin Bill BlueClaw: Julio Reyes, 23, makes his sixth start of the season and 26th appearance. He has faced Kannapolis in relief twice this season, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, tossing a total of 4.0 scoreless, hitless innings. Reyes has served as a reliever primarily this season, going 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA (12 ER/43.0 IP) in 20 relief appearances compared to 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA (15 ER/18.1 IP) in five starts. Reyes earned a relief win against the Intimidators on July 18 in Kannapolis with 3.0 spotless innings of work. Reyes spent his 2013 season with Williamsport, going 3-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) in the Short-Season New York-Penn League.

About Last Night: After Kannapolis battled back in the ninth inning to tie the game, Lakewood nullified the comeback by scoring the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, beating Kannapolis, 4-3, on Saturday at FirstEnergy Park.  With the game tied 3-3 with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Andrew Knapp — who walked to open the inning — tried to take third base on a Zach Green flyout to right field.  Jacob Morris’ throw glanced off the runner and past third baseman Trey Michalczewski, allowing Knapp to turn for home and score the winning run.  The Intimidators trailed 3-1 going into the ninth before stringing together three 1-out hits.  Brett Austin singled to open the rally, and New Jersey native Carl Thomore added a double to move the tying runs into scoring position.  Zach Voight followed with a base hit to score Austin, pulling the Intimidators within a run, and Thomore scored on a Ryan Leonards sac-fly to knot the game, 3-3. Matt Abramson (1-6) took the loss, working the final 2 and 2/3 innings for Kannapolis.  Lakewood’s Dan Child (1-1) collected the win after blowing a save in the ninth. Kannapolis plated a run in the seventh when Morris scored on a Voight groundout. Robinson Leyer tossed 6.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five and walking none.  He opened the game retiring the first six batters he faced, and after the two-out rally by the BlueClaws in the third, Leyer retired nine of the next 10 to end his night.

Three-Pack: Catcher Brett Austin, whom the White Sox drafted in the fourth round of the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of N.C. State, went 3-4 with a double and a run scored on Saturday night — his first career 3-hit game.  Austin upped his average to .277 (23-83) and he has hit safely in 18 of his 23 professional games. The former Wolfpack catcher hit .344 this past season at N.C. State.

Engel’s Streak Ended: Adam Engel saw his career-best 12-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday with an 0-4 night. He hit safely in every game from July 11-25, batting .370 (20-54). Engel was the fourth Intimidators player with a double-digit hitting streak this season and first since Brett Austin hit safely in 10 straight games from June 24-July 8. This was the second-longest hitting streak by an Intimidator this season behind a 17-game streak by Trey Michalczewski. Engel’s previous career-long hitting streak was nine games last season with Advanced Rookie Great Falls.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Game Notes 7/26/14: Leyer in Lakewood, Engel’s streak extended, and a new outfielder

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS
47-54, 18-16 (Chicago White Sox)         40-63, 13-21 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Saturday, July 26, 2014 – 7:05 p.m.
FirstEnergy Park – Lakewood, N.J.
2nd Half Game #35 (102 of 137)
RH Robinson Leyer (5-6, 3.33) vs. RH Ranfi Casimiro (2-9, 5.80)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) return to FirstEnergy Park for the first time since May to face the BlueClaws (A, Phillies) for five games in four days. Kannapolis is coming off a series loss in Hagerstown, dropping its last two games to the Suns while Lakewood enters this series off a series win against Greenville. The Intimidators took two of three games against the BlueClaws last weekend in Kannapolis and hold a 4-1 edge in the season series. Robinson Leyer takes the ball for his team-leading 20th start against Lakewood’s Ranfi Casimiro in today’s series opener.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (18-16) sits in fourth in the SAL Northern Division 2nd Half Standings after back-to-back losses dropped the Intimidators to 4.5 games back Greensboro and Hagerstown (both 23-12), which are tied atop the division. Hickory (19-16) is in third place, just a half-game ahead of Kannapolis.

Intimidating Starter: Robinson Leyer, 21, makes his second straight start against the BlueClaws after taking no decision in a 4.0-inning outing on July 19 in Kannapolis. He walked a career-high-tying four batters in his start against Lakewood, allowing two runs on four hits. Prior to that, he worked a career-long outing, working 7.2 innings in a July 13 loss to Asheville – the first time that he pitched into the eighth inning in his career. Leyer ranks 10th in the SAL with a 3.33 ERA. He dominated the months of May and June, going 3-2 with a 1.53 ERA (10 ER/58.2 IP) in 10 starts, but the month of July has been less kind as Leyer is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA (13 ER/23 IP) in four starts. He tossed his first career complete game on July 8 at Greensboro in a rain-shortened 7-inning contest. The younger brother of former Intimidator Euclides Leyer, he spent 2013 with Advanced Rookie Bristol, going 2-7 with a 6.35 ERA in 13 starts.

BlueClaw on the Bump: Ranfi Casimiro, who turned 22 last week, makes his 20th start of the season and third against Kannapolis. In two starts against the Intimidators, he is 0-1 with a 6.51 ERA (7 ER/9.2 IP) including a May 8 loss. He is coming off a no-decision in Kannapolis, giving up four runs, including three home runs, in a BlueClaws 5-4 win. Casimiro has lost his last five decisions, allowing at least four earned runs in each outing since June 27. He has struggled in July, going 0-3 with a 8.84 ERA (19 ER/19.1 IP) in four starts. Casimiro leads the SAL with 74 runs allowed, is tied for second with nine losses, and ranks fourth in walks (50). Casimiro made his domestic debut in 2012 with the GCL Phillies, going 3-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 10 games (seven starts), however his numbers dipped in his second tour in the GCL in 2013, going 2-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 11 starts.

About Last Night: Lucas Giolito, the Washington Nationals top prospect, retired 18 straight Intimidators in 6.0 scoreless innings as the Hagerstown Suns claimed the series rubber match, 5-1, on Friday at Municipal Stadium.  Kannapolis was 1-hit for only the second time this season. Giolito retired the last 18 batters he faced after giving up a leadoff single to Adam Engel to start the game.  Giolito, whom the Nationals selected out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, Calif., with the 16th overall pick in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft, struck out seven batters while working 6.0 innings of 1-hit ball. John Wooten’s 2-out home run (8) in the first inning opened the Suns’ offensive attack.  They added four more runs, including a solo home run by Jimmy Yezzo (9) over the next four innings to take a 5-0 lead. Andre Wheeler (1-3) took the loss for Kannapolis, allowing five runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.  Prior to allowing a pair of home runs today, Wheeler had allowed just two home runs all season. Jordan Guerrero tossed 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out five batters, and Andrew Mitchell worked a scoreless eighth, striking out two.

One-Hit Wonders: The Intimidators were 1-hit for the second time this season on Friday as Hagerstown’s Lucas Giolito combined with reliever Joseph Webb to stifle Kannapolis. In fact, after the first batter of the game, the Intimidators were no-hit as the Suns collected all 27 outs without any more base knocks. The only other time Kannapolis was 1-hit this season came two weeks ago when Asheville’s Antonio Senzatela and Troy Neiman 1-hit Kannapolis on July 10.

Electric Engel: Adam Engel led off Friday’s game by legging out an infield single, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games by going 1-4. He is batting .370 (20-54) in his last 12 games since July 11. Engel is the fourth Intimidators player with a double-digit hitting streak this season and first since Brett Austin hit safely in 10 straight games from June 24-July 8. This is the second-longest hitting streak by an Intimidator this season behind a 17-game streak by Trey Michalczewski. Engel’s previous career-long hitting streak was nine games last season with Advanced Rookie Great Falls.

Morris On The Mark: Jacob Morris saw his season-long 7-game hitting streak come to an end on Friday with an 0-2 night in Lakewood. Morris, who waited until the 10th inning on Thursday to extend his hitting streak, did draw his 48th walk of the season, ranking fourth in the SAL. Morris hit .433 (13-30) with five doubles, a home run, and three RBI during his 7-game hitting streak from July 16-24, falling two games shy of his career-long 9-game hitting streak last year with Great Falls where he hit .457 (16-35) from August 3-11, 2013. In addition to ranking among league leaders in walks, he also ranks tied for fourth with 25 doubles while leading the circuit with 136 strikeouts.

Danner Drops In: The Intimidators received outfielder Michael Danner, the White Sox 34th round draft pick in the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft, from the AZL White Sox today after Nolan Earley was placed on the Disabled List Friday. Danner hit .229 (11-48) with a double, two triples, and seven RBI in 13 games in Rookie ball.

Check out Danner’s University of Tampa bio

I’m Coming Home: Ben Brewster tossed 3.0 scoreless frames in his return to Maryland. The left-hander took over in the seventh and faced the minimum nine batters over three innings, giving up a single but rolling the runner into a double play in the seventh. He struck out three batters to match a career high. The White Sox selected Brewster, a Baltimore native, in the 15th round of the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Maryland.

Game-Tying T.J.: First baseman T.J. Williams has had a knack for coming up with a crucial home run for the Intimidators, including last night’s game-tying blast in the eighth inning, his seventh of the season. In addition to Williams’ walk-off home run on June 28 to beat Charleston, he now has three of the team’s six game-tying home runs in 2014. Kannapolis is 5-2 when he homers.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Going Long: A look at the longest games of 2014

Last night, Kannapolis played 13 innings against the Hagerstown Suns.  Here’s a look at how that game stacks up against some of the other long games of this season:

Longest Games of 2014 (innings):

15 innings – July 12 vs. Asheville (L, 5-7), TOG: 5:11
14 innings – April 13 at Greenville (L, 4-5), TOG: 4:24
13 innings – June 7 at Asheville (L, 5-7), TOG: 3:54
13 innings – July 24 at Hagerstown (L, 4-5), TOG: 3:44
12 innings – April 16 at Hickory (W, 4-3), TOG: 3:35
11 innings – May 12 at Hagerstown (L, 1-2), TOG: 3:00
10 innings – 3x: (1) April 10 at Greenville (L, 6-7), TOG: 3:28; (2) May 11 at Hagerstown, Game 2 of DH (L, 2-3), TOG: 2:30; (3) May 18 vs. Hickory (W, 6-5), TOG: 3:18

Longest Games of 2014 (Time of Game):

5:11 – July 12 vs. Asheville (L, 5-7), 15 innings
4:24 – April 13 at Greenville (L, 4-5), 14 innings
3:54 – July 7 at Asheville (L, 5-7), 13 innings
3:45 – June 19 at Charleston (L, 7-10)
3:44 – July 24 at Hagerstown (L, 4-5), 13 innings
3:35 – April 16 at Hickory (W, 4-3), 12 innings
3:34 – June 29 vs. Charleston (W, 7-3)
3:28 – April 10 at Greenville (L, 6-7), 10 innings
3:23 – June 21 at Charleston (W, 6-5)
3:21 – April 21 at West Virginia (W, 11-4)

Tonight is the series finale and get-away day with a bus ride to Lakewood following the final out.  Personally I enjoy extra-innings because of the heightened importance of every pitch, every base-runners.  It’s the fan in me, I suppose.  It’s great baseball, but from a staff standpoint, you’re dragging a little after working all day and continuing to work an extra hour or two.  I suppose for those with “real jobs” its like your boss telling you, “hey, by the way, I need you to stay late today” after you’ve put in a full day’s work.  Then again, give me a full day of work in baseball instead of one of those “real jobs” I speak of.  And no, I don’t know what those “real jobs” are.  I assume it’s a little like what I do in the offseason.

Here’s to a 2-1 win in 2:07 on get-away day! Keep your fingers crossed for us.

-JF
@BigTexJosh

Game Notes 7/25/14: Going long, Electric Engel, and Game-Tying T.J.

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at HAGERSTOWN SUNS
47-53, 18-15 (Chicago White Sox)        66-38, 22-12 (Washington Nationals)
Friday, July 25, 2014 – 7:05 p.m.
Municipal Stadium – Hagerstown, Md.
2nd Half Game #34 (101 of 137)
LH Andre Wheeler (1-2, 3.27) vs. RH Lucas Giolito (5-2, 2.54)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) and Suns (A, Nationals) play the series rubber match on Friday after Kannapolis took the series opener on Wendesday and Hagerstown won a 13-inning marathon on Thursday the split the first two games. Southpaw Andre Wheeler makes his third start against Hagerstown with fellow lefty Jordan Guerrero expected to piggy-back the start. The Suns will counter with Washington’s top prospect Lucas Giolito, who makes his second start against Kannapolis in a rematch of a May 11 game in which he faced off against Wheeler.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (18-15) slipped into fourth in the SAL Northern Division 2nd Half Standings with Thursday’s loss, falling 3.5 games back Greensboro and Hagerstown (both 22-12), which are tied atop the division. Hickory (19-15) moved into third ahead of Kannapolis.

Intimidating Starter: Andre Wheeler, 22, makes his 11th start and 22nd appearance when he faces the Suns for the fourth time this season and his third start against Hagerstown. He has not taken a decision against Hagerstown, posting a 4.09 ERA (5 ER/11 IP) in three games. The former Texas Tech Red Raider has not allowed an earned run in his last two outings (6.0 IP). He struck out a career-high nine batters over just 4.0 innings in his last start on July 12 against Asheville. Wheeler last earned a win on July 1, tossing 5.0 innings against Delmarva, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. He is 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA (18 ER/43.2 IP) in 10 starts compared to 0-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 11 relief appearances. Much like how he struggled in April and flourished in May, Wheeler saw his ERA spike to 5.40 in June but he’s 1-2 with a 2.08 ERA in four games (two starts) in July. The White Sox selected Wheeler in the 15th round of last June’s draft, and he pitched nine games with Bristol before joining Kannapolis in late July 2013.

Hagerstown Hurler: Nationals top prospect Lucas Giolito, who turned 20 last week, makes his 16th start of the season and second against Kannapolis. Washington’s top pick in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft (16th overall) pitched the MLB All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. team. He would rank third in the SAL with a 2.54 ERA but he is just over 10 innings shy of qualifying (71 IP). In his lone start against the Intimidators, Giolito tossed 6.0 scoreless innings of 1-hit baseball and striking out a then-season-high seven batters in a no decision. The former Harvard-Westlake High School stand out from Santa Monica, Calif., has won three of his last four games, however his 3.31 ERA in July is the highest of any month this season. Giolito, who committed to UCLA before signing with the Nationals, opened the season going 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 10 First Half starts. He is now 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts in the second half. The Nationals drafted Giolito despite a looming need to have “Tommy John” surgery, which he underwent in 2012 after one appearance in his professional debut with the GCL Nationals. Last season, he went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in eight starts in the GCL before joining Short-A Auburn Doubledays, where he went 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in three starts.

About Last Night: Hagerstown 3B John Wooten drove in four of the Suns’ five runs, including the game winner with a base hit in the bottom of the 13th inning to drop the Intimidators, 5-4, on Thursday. Wooten, who finished the game 2-4 with a pair of sac-flies and a pair of run-scoring hits, drove a Brad Salgado offering to right-center field with one out in the bottom of the 13th to score Narciso Mesa from third base.  Mesa and Wilmer Difo led off the 13th with base hits to set up the winning run.  Salgado (2-1) worked three scoreless relief innings in the 10th, 11th, and 12th before giving up the winning run with one out in the 13th and suffering his first loss with Kannapolis this season.  Andrew Cooper (7-2), the fifth Suns pitcher who faced only the final batter of the top of the 13th, logged the win. With the Suns up 4-3 since the fifth inning, T.J. Williams tied the game in the top of the eighth with a 1-out solo home run (7), eventually forcing extra innings.

Extra! Extra!: The Intimidators dropped Thursday’s extra-inning affair in 13 frames, 5-4, to Hagerstown. Kannapolis is now 2-9 in extra-inning games this season, including a 1-7 mark on the road and 0-3 against Hagerstown. The Suns and Intimidators played a 10-inning game (in the second game of a doubleheader on May 11) that Hagerstown claimed, 3-2, and the Suns claimed a 2-1 win in 11 innings the next day on May 12. Additionally, Kannapolis is now 7-15 in games decided in the final at-bats, including three walk-off losses to Hagerstown – all in extra-innings.

Go Long: Thursday night’s 13-inning game lasted 3 hours and 44 minutes, the fifth longest game of the season for the Intimidators by time. It was the fourth time this season Kannapolis played at least 13 innings and the first since July 12 when the Intimidators played their longest game of 2014, a 15-inning marathon against Asheville that lasted 5 hours and 11 minutes in a 7-5 loss to the Tourists. The only non-extra-inning game longer than last night’s contest that Kannapolis has played this season came June 19 at Charleston, a 10-7 loss to the RiverDogs that lasted 3 hours and 45 miunutes.

Electric Engel: Adam Engel collected two more hits on Thursday, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games by going 2-5 with a double. He is batting .380 (19-50) in his last 11 games since July 11. Engel is the fourth Intimidators player with a double-digit hitting streak this season and first since Brett Austin hit safely in 10 straight games from June 24-July 8. Engel’s previous career-long hitting streak was nine games last season with Advanced Rookie Great Falls.

Morris On The Mark: Jacob Morris waited until the 10th inning but extended his own hitting streak to a season-best seven games on Thursday, going 1-6 with an extra-inning base knock. Morris is batting .433 (13-30) with five doubles, a home run, and three RBI during the stretch (since July 16) and two games shy of equaling his career-long hitting streak of nine games with Great Falls where he hit .457 (16-35) from August 3-11, 2013.

I’m Coming Home: Ben Brewster tossed 3.0 scoreless frames in his return to Maryland. The left-hander took over in the seventh and faced the minimum nine batters over three innings, giving up a single but rolling the runner into a double play in the seventh. He struck out three batters to match a career high. The White Sox selected Brewster, a Baltimore native, in the 15th round of the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Maryland.

Game-Tying T.J.: First baseman T.J. Williams has had a knack for coming up with a crucial home run for the Intimidators, including last night’s game-tying blast in the eighth inning, his seventh of the season. In addition to Williams’ walk-off home run on June 28 to beat Charleston, he now has three of the team’s six game-tying home runs in 2014. Kannapolis is 5-2 when he homers.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Hagerstown and Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Hello from Hagerstown, and the team discovers the lineup rap

Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium.

Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium.

The Intimidators are at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland, which has a quirkiness about it that is hard to state without possibly coming off as negative. One thing I will say, is it does give off the feel of some of the press boxes that I worked in during my day in the Independent Golden Baseball League.  That’s not a bad thing.  It’s just a different thing.

The press box is wide open, and everyone’s work blends together.  It’s a hodgepodge of promotions, broadcasts, official scoring, and more. Players aren’t fans of the cramped clubhouse quarters, but they did fix the air conditioning, which was a concern after the Shorebirds came to Kannapolis in early July complaining of the sauna-like conditions.

Today, Suns media relations man Eli Pearlstein tells me that the home clubhouse had a fruit fly problem.  An exterminator came to spray, and now the fruit flies have migrated into the Suns front office.

Could be worse.  Could be Yuma, Arizona — similar conditions with much hotter temperatures.  And replace “fruit flies” with “scorpions hiding in your shoes” for a more accurate description.  Seriously, in Yuma, we were instructed to check our shoes before putting them on to make sure a venomous scorpion wasn’t waiting to ambush your toes.

The scoreboard in Hagerstown.

The scoreboard in Hagerstown.

The scoreboard above the wall in left-center field is purple because, according to the GM, they bought it a few years ago from TCU.  Perhaps that’s why Jason Coats played so well here last year, or why Andrew Mitchell should have a good series.

Enough “oh look at the butterfly” writing, though.  There’s plenty to go over — specifically what happened on the bus ride up to Hagerstown.

As some of you know and others on Monday found out, each year on Camp Day, I rap the Intimidators starting lineup.  It’s something I’ve done long since before I got the job in Kannapolis.  In fact, I’ve been Minor League Baseball’s poor man’s version of Weird Al since 2009 when I first did a lineup rap with the Long Beach Armada.  In a weird six-degress-of-separation way, former Intimidator Kris Honel was on that Long Beach team.  That was when I was an on-field host for home games and road broadcaster.  I think I might have done a lineup rap that year on a broadcast, but I definitely did it live on fan appreciation day in front of the fans at Blair Field.

The next year, with the Orange County Flyers, with the team playing a day game in Calgary, I got bored during a long road trip (something like 18 games in 25 days to open the season).  Going back and listening to this brings back plenty of memories about guys on the team.  Anyway, let me share it with you:

**2010 Orange County Flyers lineup rap** (sorry, couldn’t figure out how to embed this player … my pre-soundcloud days)

Perhaps my favorite line is “Eighth in the order and calling all the pitches, Jim Goethels picks up a lot of … foul balls.”

In 2011, on a Camp Day in Kannapolis against the Lakewood BlueClaws, I did it again.  As you can hear, with the same “Still Dre” instrumental beat in the background, I didn’t feel quite comfortable in getting out of my comfort zone.

The 2012 lineup rap is probably my favorite I’ve done (seriously, something about Still Dre). Favorite line from that year’s rap: “So gather ’round the channel, Felds has the call. We got 2,000 campers all wanting foul balls.” Here’s that version:

In 2013, I changed it up and went with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” as the base for presenting the starting lineup. Favorite line for this one: “we got cloudy skies and a chance of rain, but the gates are open, so please come to the game.”

I present those to you so you can hear them but also so I can express this one other sentiment before I get to the bus trip to Hagerstown. I’ve been doing this for years. It’s been a joke among my fellow broadcast friends and colleagues in Minor League Baseball that I’ll rap the lineup once a year. It’s not a big deal. It’s just something fun and a little stupid that frankly I like to do because it’s different. And in the years I’ve been doing this, with the exception of the first time I rapped the lineup on the field in Long Beach on Fan Appreciation Day in 2009, I have never known of a team to hear it or hear about it.

Fast forward to this year. I did the lineup rap on Monday during my pregame show before the game against the BlueClaws was officially rained out. I then, as I’ve done the last few years, posted it online. That was the end of it.

One day later, I’m on a bus heading up to Hagerstown. The team stops for dinner. We all get back on the bus, and manager Pete Rose Jr. calls for our bus driver — Cap’n Dave — to turn on the microphone. Pete then makes the following announcement announcement: “Hey guys, I’ve got something important to share with you. Maybe some of you have heard this, but for those of you that haven’t, listen up.”

The next thing I heard was this:

All the guys screamed “K-TOWN LINEUP!” as soon as it got started. Here was the inside joke now being played on the bus. If this doesn’t merit a max fine in Kangaroo Court, there’s probably nothing I can do to get maxed. For the most part, the guys seemed impressed with their goofy broadcaster putting the starting lineup into a rap set to “Turn Down For What.” The only guy who seemed rubbed the wrong way was T.J. Williams. Admittedly I probably could’ve come up with something more positive, but this was thrown together between 11:20-11:30am with the pre-game show starting at 11:50am while I was trying to be ready for tarp pulls.

Favorite line from this most recent rap, aside from the refrain of “K-TOWN LINEUP,” has got to be “We’ll go 1 thru 9 and the guy who throws. It’s the K-town lineup from the son of Pete Rose.”

Don’t know if I’ll do it again next year (probably), but I’ll definitely hear footsteps before going on the middle now that I’ve seen a team get it’s hard on the audio. Granted, I posted it online (what did I think was going to happen?). This is why people shouldn’t take compromising digital photos. Nothing good will come from that. Not that anything good has come from this, except for the fact that maybe now I’ll play the whole beat with me yelling “K-TOWN LINEUP” while Sean Fox, our PA announcer, reads the starting line up at home games the rest of the season.

As if GM Randy Long needs any other reason to get annoyed with me.

That’s it from Hagerstown. Time to head down to the clubhouse, get the lineups, and prep for today’s broadcast. Thanks for reading.

- JF
@BigTexJosh

Game Notes 7/24/14: Brennan’s been better, Engel still electric, and Morris making noise

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at HAGERSTOWN SUNS
47-52, 18-14 (Chicago White Sox)         65-38, 21-12 (Washington Nationals)
Thursday, July 24, 2014 – 7:05 p.m.
Municipal Stadium – Hagerstown, Md.
2nd Half Game #33 (100 of 137)
RH Thad Lowry (4-4, 4.14) vs. RH Jake Johansen (5-5, 5.00)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) have won three straight games and can clinch a series win over the Suns (A, Nationals) by taking the second of three games in Hagerstown on Thursday at Municipal Stadium. Kannapolis, which opened the series with a 6-2 win, sends right-hander Thad Lowry to the mound for his second start since returning from the Disabled List. He will face Nationals prospect Jake Johansen, who faces Kannapolis for the third time this season.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (18-14) has won four of its last five games to move into third place, 2.5 games back Greensboro and Hagerstown, which are tied atop the division at 21-12.

The White Sox selected Thad Lowry in the fifth round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

The White Sox selected Thad Lowry in the fifth round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

Intimidating Starter: Thad Lowry, 19, makes his second start since returning from the Disabled List. He is coming off 5.0 scoreless innings at Augusta on July 17 in which he opened with four hitless innings before allowing a leadoff single in the fifth inning in a no decision. Lowry opened his season 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA in three starts in May but opened a strong stretch with a complete game no-hitter in a rain-shortened 5-inning contest at West Virginia on June 3. It was the first complete game no-hitter for Kannapolis since June 10, 2003, when Brian Miller no-hit the Greensboro Grasshoppers. In June and July, Lowry is 4-1 with a 3.30 ERA (16 ER/43.2 IP) in eight starts. The White Sox selected Lowry in the fifth round of the June 2013 draft, and he went 3-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 15 games (7 starts).

Hagerstown Hurler: Jake Johansen, 23, makes his 18th start of 2014 and his fourth career start against Kannapolis. The Allen, Texas, native is coming off consecutive road losses to Lexington and Delmarva. He is three starts removed from his last win, working a career-long 6.2 innings and allowing a run on five hits to beat the BlueClaws on July 8. In three career starts against the Intimidators, Johansen is 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA (6 ER/14.2 IP). He dropped his most recent start to Kannapolis, working 5.0 innings and allowing three runs on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts at CMC-NorthEast Stadium on May 31 in the first game of a doubleheader. The Nats drafted Johansen in the second round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Dallas Baptist University. During his pro debut in 2013, he went 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA in 10 games (10 starts) with Short-A Auburn before earning a promotion to Hagerstown to make two starts in the SAL at the end of the season. He is MLB.com’s No. 12 Prospect in the Nationals system.

Last Time Out: Brandon Brennan tossed 5.2 innings to dim the Suns in a 6-2 win on Wednesday, allowing a run on three hits to earn his first win since rejoining Kannapolis. Adam Engel led off the game with a home run (6), and Danny Hayes added a home run (8) of his own in the fifth to lead the Intimidators offense. Jacob Morris went 3-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. The Intimidators enjoyed strong relief outings from Tyler Barnette and Jose Brito to secure the win.

Adam Engel has hit safely in a career-best 10 straight games since July 11.

Adam Engel has hit safely in a career-best 10 straight games since July 11.

Electric Engel: Adam Engel extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games by going 2-5 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored on Wednesday. He is batting .378 (17-45) in his last 10 games since July 11. Engel is the fourth Intimidators player with a double-digit hitting streak this season and first since Brett Austin hit safely in 10 straight games from June 24-July 8. Engel joins Austin, Trey Michalczewski (17 games) and Omar Narvaez (10 games) with 10-game hitting streaks. Engel’s previous career-long hitting streak was nine games last season with Great Falls.

Morris On The Mark: Jacob Morris extended his own hitting streak to a season-best six games on Wednesday, going 3-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. Morris is now batting .500 (12-24) with five doubles, a home run, and three RBI during the stretch (since July 16). His career-long hitting streak of nine games came August 3-11, 2013, with Great Falls (.457, going 16-35).

Brandon Brennan was selected by the White Sox in the fourth round in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Brandon Brennan was selected by the White Sox in the fourth round in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Brennan Better: Brandon Brennan continued to show great progress in his return from an elbow injury that cut short his 2013 season. In his last five starts in the South Atlantic League, including his final three starts of 2013 and first two games with Kannapolis this year, Brennan is now 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA (3 ER/31.0) dating back to last June. This season, he is 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts for Kannapolis since rejoining the team on July 15 from Advanced Rookie Great Falls.

Homerin’ Hayes: Danny Hayes hit his eighth home run of the season on Wednesday, going 1-4 with his SAL-leading 56th walk against the Suns. He leads the Intimidators and ranks fifth in the league with a .403 on-base percentage to go along with a team-best .301 (101-335 average).

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Hagerstown and Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Game Notes 7/23/14: Back to Hagerstown, Brennan on the bump, and Savvy Salgado

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS at HAGERSTOWN SUNS
46-52, 17-14 (Chicago White Sox)      65-37, 21-11 (Washington Nationals)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 – 7:05 p.m.
Municipal Stadium – Hagerstown, Md.
2nd Half Game #32 (99 of 137)
RH Brandon Brennan (0-0, 1.50) vs. RH Nick Pivetta (11-5, 3.87)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) open the second of three second-half series at Hagerstown when the play the first game of a 3-game series against the Suns (A, Nationals) on Wednesday at Municipal Stadium. Kannapolis has won three of its last four games, including a series win over the BlueClaws, while Hagerstown has pulled into a tie for first with Greensboro by winning four of their last five and 13 of their last 19 games.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (17-14) has won three of its last four games to move up into third place, 3.5 games back Greensboro and Hagerstown, which are tied atop the division.

Intimidators Starter: Brandon Brennan, who turns 23 later this week, makes his second start for the Intimidators since rejoining the team from Great Falls on July 15. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif., native tossed 6.0 innings of 1-hit ball in his return to the South Atlantic League in a no decision at Augusta on July 16. An elbow injury ended Brennan’s 2013 season after 15 starts with Kannapolis in which he went 4-9 with a 5.53 ERA (50 ER/81.1 IP), however, the progress Brennan made during the season spoke for itself. After opening the season 1-8 with a 7.88 ERA (42 ER/ 48 IP) in 10 starts over April and May, the Orange Coast College standout went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA (8 ER/33.1 IP) in five starts in June. This year, he went 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in five starts for Great Falls. The White Sox selected Brennan in the fourth round of the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Orange Coast where he was 11-1 with a 1.25 ERA.

Hagerstown Hurler: Nick Pivetta, 21, makes his 18th start of the season and second against the Intimidators. He is tied for the SAL lead with 11 wins but took a loss to Kannapolis on July 6 by allowing career-highs with eight runs and nine hits over 3.1 innings in Hagerstown. This month, Pivetta is 1-2 with a 4.98 ERA in four starts, his lowest win total and highest ERA of any month this season. He is coming off a no decision against West Virginia and is two starts removed from tossing 6.0 scoreless innings and matching a career-high with seven strikeouts in a road win at Lexington on July 11. He spent split last season with the GCL Nationals & Short-Season Auburn, going a combined 1-1 with a 2.91 ERA in nine games (eight starts). The Nationals drafted Pivetta in the fourth round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of New Mexico Junior College. Pivetta, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, was born on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1993.

Last Time Out: Kannapolis and Lakewood were rained out on Monday afternoon in Kannapolis, cutting the series short. The game has been rescheduled for Sunday when the Intimidators visit FirstEnergy Park. The teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 3 p.m.

Savvy Salgado: Brad Salgado earned his second relief win of the season by retiring the final 10 batters of Sunday’s game against Lakewood. He took over with two outs in the sixth and tossed 3 and 1/3 perfect relief innings to help Kannapolis hold a 1-run lead in a 7-6 win over the ‘Claws. The position-player-turned-pitcher is in his second season on the mound after converting prior to the 2013 season. Since his promotion to Kannapolis on June 30, Salgado is 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA (2 ER/11.2 IP) in five games, with both runs allowed coming July 12 against Asheville, giving him four scoreless outings in five games on the mound.

Electric Engel: Adam Engel extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine games by going 2-5 Sunday with two runs scored. He is now batting .375 (15-40) in his last nine games since July 11. On Saturday, Engel recorded a season-high 4 hits on Saturday, tying his career-high. He was 4-5 with a double, triple, RBI and three runs scored. Engel has stolen bases in consecutive games and leads Kannapolis with 24.

Turn of the Century: Danny Hayes went 2-4 on Sunday for his 99th and 100th hits of the season to raise his team-leading average to .302 (100-331) and on-base percentage to .403, which ranks fifth in the SAL. Hayes leads the circuit with 55 walks. The White Sox 13th round pick in the June 2013 draft, Hayes is just the 11th Sally Leaguer to reach the 100-hit plateau this season.

Hot-Hitting Suns: Hagerstown’s Wilmer Difo leads the SAL with 127 hits and 416 at-bats, batting .305 in a league-leading 101 games. He ranks second in the league with 32 stolen bases, 68 runs scored, and 185 total bases. Isaac Ballou leads the SAL with 72 runs scored and ranks second with 98 games played. Rafael Bautista leads the SAL with 53 stolen bases, second in the Minors.

Road Broadcasts: This week’s games in Hagerstown and Lakewood will be broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season as the Voice of the Intimidators.

Game Notes 7/21/14: Brennan back on the bump in Kannapolis

KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS vs. LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS
46-52, 17-14 (Chicago White Sox)      38-62, 11-20 (Philadelphia Phillies)
Monday, July 21, 2014 – 12:05 p.m.
CMC-NorthEast Stadium – Kannapolis, N.C.
2nd Half Game #32 (99 of 137)
RH Brandon Brennan (0-0, 1.50) vs. LH Yoel Mecias (1-0, 0.00)

Today’s Preview:The Intimidators (A, White Sox) play for a third straight win and a series victory over the BlueClaws (A, Phillies) in a 12:05 p.m. game at CMC-NorthEast Stadium. Kannapolis welcomes back Brandon Brennan to CMC-NorthEast Stadium as he makes his first start in Kannapolis since a injury cut short his 2013 campaign. Also fresh into a return to the South Atlantic League, Lakewood’s Yoel Mecias – a BlueClaws starter for the first half of last season – makes his second start since rejoining the club.

Sally League Standings: Kannapolis (17-14) has won three of its last four games to take sole possession in third place, 4.0 games back of first place Greensboro (21-10) in the Northern Division Second Half.

Intimidators Starter: Brandon Brennan, who turns 23 later this week, makes his second start for the Intimidators since rejoining the team from Great Falls on July 15. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif., native tossed 6.0 innings of 1-hit ball in his return to the South Atlantic League in a no decision at Augusta on July 16. An elbow injury ended Brennan’s 2013 season after 15 starts with Kannapolis in which he went 4-9 with a 5.53 ERA (50 ER/81.1 IP), however, the progress Brennan made during the season spoke for itself. After opening the season 1-8 with a 7.88 ERA (42 ER/ 48 IP) in 10 starts over April and May, the Orange Coast College standout went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA (8 ER/33.1 IP) in five starts in June. This year, he went 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in five starts for Great Falls. The White Sox selected Brennan in the fourth round of the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Orange Coast where he was 11-1 with a 1.25 ERA.

BlueClaw on the Bump:Yoel Mecias, 20, makes his second start since returning to Lakewood and his sixth of the season after returning to the mound with the GCL Phillies in late June. Mecias, who pitched for the BlueClaws to open the 2013 campaign, made four starts in the GCL this season, going 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA before returning to the Sally League with 5.0 scoreless innings in a road win at Hickory on July 15. Last year with Lakewood, Mecias went 4-3 with a 3.79 ERA with one save in one opportunity over 13 games (11 starts). He struck out 70 batters over 57.0 IP before seeing his season end after at June 22 start at West Virginia. This is Mecias’ first appearance against Kannapolis.

Last Time Out:Brad Salgado retired the final 10 batters of the game as Kannapolis beat Lakewood, 7-6, on Sunday.  Salgado (2-0) took over with two outs in the sixth inning and tossed 3 and 1/3 perfect frames to finish the game, striking out two batters, to earn the win.  Kannapolis, which twice came from behind to tie the game, eventually pulled ahead in the seventh inning on Danny Hayes’ 100th hit of the season, a dribbler in front of home plate that allowed Adam Engel to score the tying run, 6-6.  Jacob Morris followed with an RBI-groundout to cash Christian Stringer for a 7-6 lead. Kannapolis scored two runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to batter the BlueClaws.  Lakewood led 3-1 entering the bottom of the fifth when Nolan Earley led off the frame with a triple.  Earley scored on a Ryan Leonards grounder, and Leonards later scored on a Stringer grounder to tie the game, 3-3.  After Lakewood took a 6-3 lead with three more runs off Jeff McKenzie in the top of the sixth, who allowed six runs on 12 hits over 5 and 2/3 innings in a no decision. Earley, who finished 3-4 and a home run shy of the cycle, added a 2-run double in the sixth to pull Kannapolis within a run.  Lakewood reliever Joey DeNato (1-1) took the loss, allowing an inherited runner to score in the seventh before giving up his own run.  He tossed 2.0 innings, allowing a run on four hits.

Electric Engel: Adam Engel extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine games by going 2-5 Sunday with two runs scored. He is now batting .375 (15-40) in his last nine games since July 11. On Saturday, Engel recorded a season-high 4 hits on Saturday, tying his career-high. He was 4-5 with a double, triple, RBI and three runs scored. Engel has stolen bases in consecutive games and leads Kannapolis with 24.

Turn of the Century: Danny Hayes went 2-4 on Sunday for his 99th and 100th hits of the season to raise his team-leading average to .302 (100-331) and on-base percentage to .403, which ranks fifth in the SAL. Hayes leads the circuit with 55 walks. The White Sox 13th round pick in the June 2013 draft, Hayes is just the 11th Sally Leaguer to reach the 100-hit plateau this season.

Broadcast: This season, all 70 home games and select road games are broadcast on the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Network available at IntimidatorsBaseball.com & on the TuneIn Radio App with Josh Feldman, now in his fourth season with the team.

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