Cannon Baller Chronicle: Kannapolis Starts Second Half on Right Foot with Two Wins
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – After a five-game win streak from May 11-17, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers fell into a proverbial hole, dropping their next seven straight. Kannapolis did not cave in, grinding out two victories to close out a six-game series at home with the first-half South Division champion Myrtle Beach
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – After a five-game win streak from May 11-17, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers fell into a proverbial hole, dropping their next seven straight. Kannapolis did not cave in, grinding out two victories to close out a six-game series at home with the first-half South Division champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans. With the two wins on Saturday and Sunday, the Ballers begin the second half of the Carolina League season on the right foot, moving to a tie for first place at 2-1.
KELLEY BACK ON TRACK
RHP Jared Kelley needed just one more inning to earn his first victory of the season on Saturday, but the righty was pulled in favor of RHP Tyson Messer. Regardless, Kelley found his footing on the mound against Myrtle Beach with four shutout innings. Saturday marked the first shutout outing for the Refugio, Texas native since May 22 vs. Fayetteville. Kelley has seen his pitch count increase with every start, meaning fans can expect the righty to get deeper into ballgames if all goes well.
WILFRED VERAS, THE INSURANCE AGENT?
In both Kannapolis victories this series, IF Wilfred Veras tallied a home run. The 19-year-old crushed a valuable three-run home run in the seventh inning of Saturday’s win, as well as a solo shot in the fifth inning of the series finale on Sunday. Both of Veras’ home runs gave the Ballers a cushion of run support, helping ensure victory. With his two homers, Veras also moves closer to team-leader DJ Gladney, who tallied two home runs of his own on Thursday’s loss.
THAT DOES NOT STINK
C Colby Smelley provided a quiet, yet productive week of action against Myrtle Beach. With the departure of IF Colson Montgomery, Smelley is now the team leader in batting average at .271. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native is in the midst of an eight-game hit streak, with a chance to tie his season best of nine games in a row in his next appearance. Smelley reached base in every plate appearance he earned on Saturday night, going 2-2 with three walks, one of the most productive evenings at the plate of any Baller batter in 2022.
ON TO THE NEXT
The Wood Ducks, Low-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, have begun the second half at a torrid pace. Down East is in the midst of a six-game win streak, sweeping the Carolina Mudcats at Grainger Stadium in Kinston. The Wood Ducks, led by manager Steve Mintz, are the only remaining undefeated team in the second half, currently holding first place in the Carolina League North Division.
Against Kannapolis, Down East is exactly 9-9, with the two sides splitting in each of their three series. The Ballers and Wood Ducks have played two series at Atrium Health Ballpark and one at Grainger Stadium. This upcoming six-game set will conclude the 2022 slate of matchups for the two sides.
The Wood Ducks hold four of the top 30 prospects in the Texas Rangers organization in INF Maximo Acosta (No. 13), INF Cam Cauley (No. 21), LHP Mitch Bratt (No. 22), and RHP Dane Acker (No. 23).
After a cold May and a great month of June, Acosta has leveled out, batting .249 with 22 RBI so far on the season. In his last 10 games, the Venezuelan infielder has tallied six hits. Cauley is currently listed on the 7-day IL, being placed there on June 16. Bratt has started twice against Kannapolis this season, allowing at least two runs in both outings. The lefty from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada has worked deeper into games in his last three starts, going at least five innings, tying season-highs in each. Finally, Acker is currently listed on the Wood Ducks 60-day IL.
The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers pack up and head out on the road for a six-game set at Grainger Stadium in Kinston with the Down East Wood Ducks June 28-July 3. The Ballers are back at Atrium Health Ballpark just in time for a July 4 matchup with the Carolina Mudcats, Low-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, followed by a five-game set with Carolina July 6-10.
Tickets can be purchased for any upcoming home games at kcballers.com or at the F&M Bank Box Office located at Atrium Health Ballpark. Fans can also keep up with the action on the team’s social media outlets, with live in-game updates being provided on Twitter at @kcannonballers. All Cannon Ballers home games, as well as select road games, will have a free audio broadcast on kcballers.com, with all home games also being broadcasted on MiLB.tv.