Legends On Deck

SAL Game of the Week: Rome Can’t Overcome Errors; Tough Pitching

The Rome Braves would get back to their winning ways earlier this week after taking two out of three at home against the Hagerstown Suns, ending the R-Braves six game losing streak. They looked to continue that winning momentum tonight in their first of a four game series against the Chicago White Sox Single-A affiliate, the Kannapolis Intimidators, and Legends on Deck was live at State Mutual Stadium to catch the action. The Intimidators entered the game with only one bat in their lineup ranked in the White Sox top 30 prospects and would have their work cut out for them even more in this one as the Braves trotted out their ace, Ian Anderson.

The 19 year old Anderson hit leadoff batter Joel Booker on the first pitch of the game before, in typical Ian Anderson bounce back style, he picked Booker off at first. This is really symbolic of his season as a whole. If there is one common theme in the three games I have gotten to see Anderson pitch this season, it is that he may get into trouble from time to time, but he has the mechanics, and the stuff, to turn an inning around quickly. That was the case tonight too as Anderson had a ping pong performance on the mound where he seemed to put a runner on, then punch a runner out over and over.

As Anderson toed the left side of the rubber, it seemed as though he was laboring a little as he threw 74 pitches through his three innings. He would get into some trouble in the third and allow Tyler Sullivan to score on a wild pitch before shortstop Derian Cruz would commit two errors to keep the inning going, eventually resulting in two runs scoring in the inning, one earned and one unearned. That would be it for Anderson as he would give way to lefty Tucker Davidson in the fourth.

The Intimidators starter, Bernardo Flores, would not back down from the challenge of facing one of the Braves top prospects. The 21 year old out of the University of Southern California had his breaking ball and his changeup working extremely well in this one. The fastball maxed out at 89, but the offspeed stuff was giving the Braves hitters fits. Flores ended up with six shutout innings.

The Intimidators took a 3-0 lead into the top of the sixth where they really blew it open. They loaded the bases to start the inning before Davidson struck out Seby Zavala and got a ground ball to the shortstop, Cruz, that had the potential to be an inning ending double play and ultimately get Davidson and the Braves out of the inning unscathed. Cruz fumbled the ball and committed his third error of the game, allowing the inning to continue. Four unearned runs would come around to score in the inning and the Intimidators took an 8-0 lead into the bottom half of the sixth.

Another error by the Braves, and subsequently another run allowed in the top of the eighth, would extend the Intimidators lead to 9-0. Danny Dopico entered the game with a 1,2,3 seventh for the visitors before getting chased by an RBI triple from Anthony Concepcion with one out in the eighth. Randy Ventura would single to right field to drive in Concepcion and the Braves were on the board.

It was 9-2 in favor of the Intimidators when one of the most intriguing happenings in professional baseball took place, a position player took the mound. While it only happens in blowouts, there is still something semi-exciting about watching a position player slide over from his defensive position to the mound. In Marcus Mooney’s case tonight, it was a failed experiment, but one that could have been much worse. The second baseman trotted to the hill and gave up a homer to leadoff hitter Zach Remillard. Mooney would get two strikeouts in the inning, one on a very slow looping curveball, and one on a questionable fastball on the corner, but ended up allowing only two runs despite giving up four hits and hitting a batter.

In the end, the Braves could not overcome the errors and the stellar pitching performance from the Intimidators staff. The Braves would drop game one of the series by a final of 11-2. Game two takes place tomorrow at 2pm as the Braves look to get back in the win column.

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