Minor League baseball: Wood Ducks top Cannon Ballers in season opener

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Staff report

KANNAPOLIS — The long-awaited opening night for the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers at Atrium Health Ballpark was a success everywhere except the scoreboard.

Downpours hit the area Tuesday, but the three-hour game started only about nine minutes behind schedule.

Every ticket available under current COVID restrictions was sold. Officially, attendance on an overcast night with high-60s temperatures was 2,487.

The Down East Wood Ducks used a six-run seventh inning to hand the Cannon Ballers an 8-4 defeat that will be reflected in the standings in the revamped Low-A East League.

Former Carson High phenom Owen White, 21, a 2018 second-round pick who made his pro debut close to home as the starting pitcher for the Wood Ducks, didn’t figure in the decision. He exited in the third inning, as the Cannon Ballers grabbed a 2-1 lead.

White, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, worked out of a jam in the first inning and cruised through the second, but he had to throw 32 pitches in the third to get two outs, and one of those came on a caught stealing.

An outfield error hurt White some in the third, and the Cannon Ballers also bunched two hits and two walks and took advantage of two wild pitches in the inning.

Leury Tejada, who earned the win, bailed out White and the Wood Ducks, by stranding two base runners.

White, who struck out four, got off the hook as the potential losing pitcher when the Wood Ducks tied the game at 2-all in the sixth.

Then the visitors took control in the top of the seventh, with a humongous frame that included the first pro homer in the park by Down East’s Antonio Caballo.

Casey Krogman, a 34th-round draft pick, nailed the first homer of the season for the home team, a solo blast in the eighth that was exciting, but also proved too little and too late.

White’s teammates included Luisangel Acuna, younger brother of Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna. He had a double.

The most impressive Cannon Baller was Jeremiah Burke, a former Georgetown hurler who fanned nine after relieving in the second inning. It was 2-all when he finished his mound stint.

Taking the loss for the Cannon Ballers was Garvin Alston,  the victim of that seventh-inning explosion.

The teams will go at it again tonight, and each night through Sunday as six-game series are the format for the Low A East League.