Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BlueClaws take opener of Sally League championship series

On Monday night in Lexington, Lakewood had mustered just a lone hit entering the ninth inning and trailed 5-0.  Five straight hits, three of them consecutive home runs, tied the game, buying the visitors new life and the chance they needed to lock down an extra-inning victory and take charge in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship Series.

With the game on the line, the BlueClaws' power (the club's 95 regular season home runs were the largest single season total in team history) was on display in the top of the 9th

Following base hits from pinch hitter Josh Stephen and first baseman Jake Scheiner, catcher Rodolfo Duran mashed a deep fly ball for a three run homer that put the BlueClaws within two runs at 5-3.  Slugging right fielder Jhailyn Ortiz then slammed a fly ball the opposite way that hit near the right field foul pole for a round tripper.  Then a third straight big fly from shortstop Nick Maton tied the contest at 5-5.

Madison Stokes, image- Jay Floyd
Designated hitter Madison Stokes laced a single in the 11th that plated Duran, who had led off the inning with a single.  That gave the BlueClaws their first lead of the contest and they held on to capture the series opener with a 6-5 win.

Set up man Connor Brogdon struck out five, walked one and allowed a hit over two innings of work to earn the win.  Closer Zach Warren struck out two and walked one in a scoreless inning to lock up the victory and notch the save. 

Lakewood starter Damon Jones allowed four earned runs in four frames of work.  Reliever Gustavo Armas allowed another Lexington run in three innings of work.  Luis Carrasco also threw a scoreless inning out of the Lakewood bullpen.

The two teams are back in action as the series continues on Tuesday night in Lexington.  Game three is set to be played in Lakewood on Thursday with games four and five (if necessary) to be played on Friday and Saturday respectively.
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