Bananas look for storybook ending as Petitt Cup reaches pinnacle Game 3

There is nothing more fitting than a storybook ending to the season. That’s what the Savannah Bananas will be looking to do when they host the Morehead City Marlins for Game 3 of the CPL championship and the chance to hoist the Petitt Cup when it’s all said and done.

It was a wild night in BananaLand on Friday night despite the loss. The crowd was into the game from the very start and with a chance to tie the game in the ninth, it legitimately felt like the beams might fall off of the grandstands. Absolutely electric. Here’s how the 5-3 loss went down at Grayson Stadium:

First, A Celebrity Visit

A pre-game meal is always the cornerstone of a successful night on the diamond. The Nanners got some premier carbs in before the game as they got a visit from Paula Deen herself. The team was gifted some homemade “Savannah Bananas Muffins.” That’s right the Bananas have a signature Paula Deen meal.

Pretty wild start to the day for the Nanners clubhouse.

Ryan Kennedy Gives Quality Outing

With the series lead, the Bananas turned to one of the best pitchers to ever grace the mound in BananaLand. Kennedy had been coming off an incredible regular season in which he led the CPL in ERA (0.74). He also gave the Nanners a heck of an outing during the semifinals earlier in the week against the High Point-Thomasville HiToms.

Kennedy was on his game Friday night, too. The lefty was on a mission for his final start in BananaLand for the 2021 summer. Through the first five innings of the game, Kennedy held the Marlins scoreless and allowed just one hit—a double in the first inning. The kid who brings an Al Leiter-like poise to the mound notched eight punch outs through the first five innings. There was one pitch he’d like to have back, a slider that turned into a game-tying home run in the sixth inning. But Kennedy still gave the Nanners more than a chance to win the game with a stellar start.

Kennedy’s final line on the night was 5.1 innings pitched, two hits, eight strikeouts, two runs and one walk. The Bananas brought in seven-footer Jared Beck in relief of Kennedy in the sixth inning. Beck wound up giving up a home run in the top of the seventh to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. His final line was 1.0 inning pitched, two hits, two runs and one walk allowed.

In relief of Beck came righty Christian Dearman, who gave up a two-run home run to left field on his very first pitch of the game. 5-2, Marlins in the seventh. Dearman winds up getting out of the inning with a pickoff and a strikeout. He finished with a line of 1.0 inning pitched, one hit, one run, two walks and one strikeout. Nolan Daniel came on in relief in the top of the eighth inning.

Daniel immediately came in and clocked a punch out in the eighth. Light work. Then came back in the ninth inning to hold the Marlins scoreless, adding another pair of strikeouts to his line. More light work.

Reinoso Brings The Boom

Both teams were held scoreless through the first three innings. It was a pitcher’s duel in the truest sense of the phrase. Until it wasn’t. Despite centerfield at Grayson Stadium being an absolute graveyard, Livan Reinoso didn’t want to hear that. As the designated hitter for the Nanners on Friday night, Reinoso smacked a baseball about as hard as I’ve ever seen it in person.

The mammoth from Erskine took a 2-2 pitch to dead center field, giving the Nanners a 1-0 lead. This ball nearly ripped through the fabric of the space-time continuum. Coming off the bat at 103 MPH, the ball landed 414 feet from home plate. Yeah. Smoked. BananaLand knew it, too as the grandstands and bleachers erupted in unison.

The Bananas bats came alive after that. Dan Oberst and Bryson Bloomer followed the absolute nuke job with scorching singles up the middle. Nick Clarno punched a one-out single up the middle as well but hit it so hard that Oberst couldn’t score from second base.

No matter. The Nanners would scratch across another run in the fourth when Bill Knight drove in Oberst with a fielder’s choice up the middle.

The Nanners were held scoreless in the fifth and sixth before having a chance in the bottom of the seventh inning. Nick Clarno, infused with enough electricity to run a power plant, knocked his second hit of the game with a single to right field. Bill Knight followed that up with a hit-by-pitch, giving the Nanners two on with no outs. Unfortunately, a strikeout, flyout and strikeout ended the inning without any runs being pushed across.

In the eighth inning, Dan Oberst got the crowd going by absolutely obliterating a double to right center field. The guy might be one of the best pure hitters I’ve ever seen. Eduardo Malinowski and his Ivy League degree smacked a double down the left field line to score Oberst and cut the Marlins lead to 5-3.

The ninth inning got even more wild. The fans were untamed. It felt like they were on the field with the team. Things got even more unhinged when Bill LeRoy went LeRoy Jenkins with one out, blasting a double to the warning track in left field. The guy is truly a legend. Unfortunately, the game ended without LeRoy coming across the plate.

It’s evident these two teams do not like each other. There has been trash talk and barking from both sides, and things essentially came to a head following Ty Jackson’s strikeout to end the game. Benches cleared as it seemed both teams were ready for war but it was thankfully broken up before it escalated beyond a point of return.

A Dedicated Inchworm

Some fans go through the mid-inning promotions not wanting to embarrass themselves (too much) while there are others who bring a different level of determination in order to win the event they are participating in. One fan on Friday night looked like a legit inchworm during the inchworm race down the first base line.

Face buried in the dirt. Hawaiin shirt sacrificed. Bragging rights over his friends secured. The form and sheer dedication from this fan should not go unnoticed. He was dialed in from the start and left no doubt that he was the best inchworm in the stadium on Friday night.

Nanners Of The Game

Dan Oberst: 2-4, 2 R

Nick Clarno: 2-3

Ryan Kennedy: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K

Nolan Daniel: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

What’s Next For The Nanners?

Game 3. This is why home-field advantage is huge during the playoffs. The Nanners will be back home on Saturday night looking to win the CPL championship and hoist the Petitt Cup in BananaLand. Tickets are now available on the website!

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