Rome flexes muscle in 9-1 opening day victory in Kannapolis
KANNAPOLIS, NC — Justin Dean ripped an inside-the-park homerun on the first pitch of the game and the Rome Braves never looked back, opening the 2019 season with an impressive 9-1 win over the Intimidators in North Carolina on Thursday evening.
After adding a second run in the first inning on a Brendan Venter RBI single, Rome erupted for four runs in the third thanks to a Griffin Benson RBI double and a three-run homer from Venter.
Trey Harris added a solo shot in the fifth and Rome completed their scoring with two runs in the sixth inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Harris and Venter, extending the lead to 9-0.
Kannapolis got its lone run in the eighth inning on a double from Steele Walker into center field to pull it to 9-1. Rome never trailed in the game.
Venter finished his night 4-for-5 with a homer, double and five RBIs. Harris, Dean, and Andrew Moritz all contributed multi-hit efforts as well, and Greg Cullen had a hit and two walks.
As the Rome offense sizzled, their pitching staff enjoyed a successful night of its own. RHP Nolan Kingham got the win, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing only three hits, with a strikeout and no walks. Former position player-turned reliever Kurt Hoekstra was dominant on Thursday out of the bullpen, recording four strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.
Game two of the series and season was scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday evening at Intimidators Stadium in Kannapolis. Rome puts RHP Jasseel De La Cruz on the mound. Kannapolis will start LHP Taylor Varnell. They finished out the series after press time in North Carolina, then played the Columbia Fireflies to open the week again on the road before they come home to Floyd County for the home opener against the Greenville Drive on Thursday, with a 7 p.m. start time at the Braves Stadium in Rome.
Check back in coming editions to keep up with how the Braves are doing this season.