Thursday, September 2, 2010

BlueClaws Clinch 2nd Half Title

LAKEWOOD, NJ- The first play of the game set the tone for the Augusta GreenJackets. BlueClaws lead-off man Jiwan James reached on a walk by right-handed pitcher Brian Irving, but the fourth ball got by Augusta catcher Tommy Joseph, who took his time retrieving the ball at the backstop and James hustled on the play, surprising the GreenJackets and reaching second base. The sulking attitude set in with the battery and quickly became contagious with the rest of the Augusta defense.

Errors, bases loaded walks, passed balls, hit batters, a wild pitch and several base hits by the Lakewood line up led to an unexpectedly remarkable night. The BlueClaws entered the game with an opportunity to clinch the second half division title, provided they won and rival Greensboro lost. The desired results occurred in blowout fashion in both games. Lakewood handled the Giants affiliate Augusta 14-2, while Greensboro was handed an 11-0 defeat by Savannah.

The scoring got started in the first inning when James, who reached on the aforementioned walk, scored on a fielding error by Irving. Back-to-back RBI hits by Stephen Batts and Keoni Ruth put the 'Claws up 3-0 after one frame.

Lakewood continued its onslaught in the 2nd inning. Catcher Jim Klocke (31st round 2010 draft pick), making his Class A debut, singled and was later driven in on a bases loaded walk to the Phillies' top prospect Jonathan Singleton. Two more passed balls later, the BlueClaws had tossed up another 3 on the scoreboard.

In the 3rd inning, the game truly became a rout when the home club added 6 more runs. The frame went on so long that BlueClaws starter Trevor May needed to throw in the bullpen during the 11-batter inning, in order to stay loose. Right-hander Jeremy Toole entered the game in relief, for Augusta, but failed to retire any of the 7 Lakewood batters that he faced. Klocke's single that plated Ruth was the only RBI hit in the inning. Other runs scored on an error, a wild pitch, 2 sacrifice flies and another bases loaded walk to Singleton.

Lakewood added 2 more runs in the 4th inning on a 2 RBI double by Singleton that scored Klocke and Michael Dabbs and put the 'Claws up 14-0.

The Phillies' 4th ranked prospect, righty hurler Trevor May, threw 6 innings, striking out 7 GreenJackets batters, while walking 1 and letting up just 1 earned run. Manager Mark Parent was impressed with May's efforts on Wednesday night. "May did so good that I think I could've went back there and caught him tonight," Parent, a retired former Major League catcher, said after the game. "I'm excited about him hopefully doing the same things in the playoffs."

May, who didn't surrender a hit until the 5th inning on Wednesday, is 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 starts with Lakewood this season.

By clinching the 2nd half title, the BlueClaws became the first team since Capital City in 2004 with win both halves of the SAL season. "It's quite an accomplishment for a bunch of young guys- probably the youngest team in the league all year. And for these guys to compete, day in and day out, the way they did...it's a credit to those guys working out, staying in shape so they're strong throughout the season," Parent added.

Phillies assistant general manager in charge of player development Chuck Lamar was in attendance to watch the defending South Atlantic League champions lock down the second half title, along with pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller. Lamar spoke about another big season for the BlueClaws. "It's been a tremendous year here in Lakewood, developmental wise. We're just in that cycle of signing a lot of young, talented players and I think we've had competitive clubs here over the past few years and from a developmental stand point, it's just been a great year here all the way around," Lamar said.

The series wraps up Wednesday at 7:05pm when Lakewood sends Eric Massingham (5-2, 3.72 ERA) to the hill to make his first start of the season. Augusta will counter with righty Chris Heston (5-12, 3.84).

The South Atlantic League playoffs begin next Wednesday. Fans can view ticket information by clicking here.

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