The Kannapolis Intimidators are rolling, and manager Ernie Young says there’s no secret to the team’s success.
“They’re just playing hard,” Young said Monday night after the Intimidators stretched their winning streak to seven games.
“Every day they’re just going out and giving themselves a chance to win a ballgame. And from day one, these guys have been battling. They haven’t given up, even when we’ve been down late in the ballgame. They’ve battled and battled and battled and stayed close.
“We lost a lot of close games, but we also won a lot of close games.”
Going into Tuesday night’s game against Greensboro, Kannapolis held a four-game lead over second-place Lake County in the South Atlantic League Northern Division.
Things couldn’t have gone better for the Intimidators in their recent series at West Virginia.
Kannapolis swept that four-game set against one of the divisional contenders, while other teams that had been bunched near the top lost and fell back as well.
Several players have been hot at the plate during the recent surge. Kenny Williams, Jon Gilmore, Josh Phegley, Eduardo Escobar and Luis Sierra have led the way in the last 10 games as the Intimidators went 8-2.
“That’s what team baseball is all about,” Young said. “From one to nine, these guys are picking each other up. Each one of them is going out there and helping the team win.”
Then there’s the Kannapolis pitching.
The Intimidators rank third in the SAL in ERA, pace the league with 14 shutouts and Charlie Leesman’s 11 wins are also a league-high. Closer Dan Remenowsky has 19 saves.
Dexter Carter was a strikeout-machine for the Intimidators until he was part of the Chicago White Sox trade with San Diego for Jake Peavy last week.
“It’s nice,” Young said. “When the pitchers go out there and throw strikes and have good tempo on the mound, the defense plays better. And it affects the offense as well because they’re going out there and they’re putting up a quick zero.
“They’re giving us a chance to go out and score some runs the following inning.”
On Monday night, James Albury (2-0) was the winning pitcher.
“He’s gotten better each outing,” Young said. “His first outing I’m sure wasn’t to his liking, but each outing after that he’s gotten better and better, and he’s given us a chance to win.”
As would be expected for a Class A team, roster turnover for the Intimidators has been extensive. But the team, which is enjoying record attendance, keeps winning.
“Each time a guy moves, that’s part of baseball,” Young said. “I try to tell our guys, ‘Keep playing hard, because good or bad, you never know when it’s going to be the last game that you play.’
“So if you take that out on the field each night and leave everything out there, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
“You can hold your head high and know that you’ve done something.”
After an open date today, the Intimidators are at Asheville for four games. They return home Aug. 17 for an eight-game set against Lexington and Bowling Green.