Boston's High-A affiliate sweeps to championship

September 20th, 2023

A four-season title drought came to an end for Greenville on Tuesday after an undefeated playoff run.

It was a back-and-forth affair in Game 2 of the South Atlantic Championship Series, but the High-A Red Sox affiliate strung together some big hits to defeat Hudson Valley, 7-3, to win the crown.

Despite the Drive’s dominance in the postseason, which began with a sweep of Hickory in the semifinals, the regular season had its ups and downs. In the first half, Greenville went 36-30 to lead the South Division. They topped the division in run differential at +14. The second half was a different story as the Drive crawled into the playoffs with a 27-39 record capped by a six-game losing streak.

Greenville manager Iggy Suarez said the team was able to turn the page, entering postseason play with optimism:

“I think after that Sunday when we lost that sixth in a row, the guys were ready to get that over with," he said. "They were ready to get the season over with and ready for the postseason. The vibe in the clubhouse wasn’t ‘We just lost six in a row,’ the vibe was ‘The season is over, and now we get to start what we’ve been wanting to start.'”

The semifinals largely came down to timely hits by key contributors and . In the championship round, the Drive benefited from two walked-in runs in the opener, but Game 2 was a return to form. Paulino, Boston's No. 21 prospect, doubled in the first run of the game in the third inning. The game was knotted up in the fourth before the Drive recaptured the lead with a solo home run by Ronald Rosario in the sixth.

Greenville added on in the next inning with a three-run homer by Campbell. The 21-year-old, who was promoted from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League to the Drive on Aug. 24, collected two more knocks in the game for the third three-hit game of his young pro career. His Greenville skipper has been impressed by Campbell's approach.

“The lights were not too bright for him," Suarez said. "First year in pro ball, first season, and he’s in the thick of things. The bigger the moment, he embraced it and he wanted it. It’s almost a veteran approach.”

Starter also proved up to the task, allowing one run on on two hits and two walks while striking out five over three innings. The No. 27 Red Sox prospect went 2-7 this season with a 4.84 ERA. Zach Penrod, who prior to this season last pitched in affiliated ball in 2018, followed with seven strikeouts over five two-run frames to earn the win.

Suarez is reveling in his first title with the team. He sees the Drive's composure through the ups and downs as confidence in one another – and feels fortunate to have been at the helm.

“I was glad I was part of the ride.”