Savannah Arms on Point in July

SAVANNAH, GA - As the Sand Gnats battle through their second half schedule, one element has kept them in contention South Atlantic League Southern Division and that has been their pitching. Bolstered by an excellent run of starting pitching and timely relief, the Sand Gnats' team ERA of 3.01 ranks second in the league and could set them up for a second half run.

Savannah starter Jeurys Familia ended the Sand Gnats eight game homestand with an 8-0 victory over Hickory Monday night. Familia, along with the rest of the Savannah pitching staff have had a productive July as they hold the second lowest staff ERA in the league.

Savannah starter Jeurys Familia pitched a gem in the Sand Gnats finale against the Hickory Crawdads to extend the impressive outings from the savannah pitching staff in the month of July.

Overall, the Gnats pitching staff has posted a 2.43 ERA in 17 games in July, giving them the second lowest ERA in the South Atlantic League this month.

In Savannah's 8-0 win in the rubber match against Hickory and the final game of an eight game homestand at Historic Grayson Stadium, Familia pitched seven complete innings, allowing no runs on only two hits for the Crawdads.

He becomes the first Sand Gnat to win eight games this season.

Familia finished the homestand 2-0 with a combined line of 13 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts and just one earned run on only four allowed hits.

Familia wasn't the only Savannah starter who had a success against the Crawdads, as Eric Beaulac pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball on Saturday, followed by 19-year-old Kyle Allen earning his seventh win of the 2009 season Sunday as he pitched six innings in a 11-2 romp of Hickory.

Although the win put Allen over the .500 win percentage mark this year, perhaps his most important and most impressive start came earlier in the Gnats homestand, as the Riverview, Fla. native outdueled Major League All-Star Bartolo Colon who started against Savannah on July 14 as part of his rehab with the Kannapolis Intimidators. In that start, Allen pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing only three hits and recording five strikeouts.

As good as the Savannah starters have been in July, the Gnats bullpen might be just as impressive as they allowed zero runs in the eight game homestand.

Relievers John Church, Rhiner Cruz, Jake Goldberg, Manny Olivares, Phillips Orta and Tim Smith all made at least two appearances in those eight games and have combined for 23 shutout innings.

Savannah pitching coach Mark Valdes expressed how he was pleased with the recent performances from his pitching staff and is optimistic about the future of his young pitchers.

"These guys work hard every day and I can't ask anything more of them," Valdes said. "Location and consistency is the biggest thing that we preach here and for the most part all of these guys are progressing well and doing the things it takes to be better pitchers," he added

"There are a lot of good hitters in this league and these guys are still very young and have a lot to learn, but they are all doing the things that myself and the rest of the coaching staff asks them to do and they all have bright futures ahead of them."

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