Lexington Legends One Win Away From SAL Championship

Lakewood, NJ – On a night that produced a constant mist, the Lexington Legends defeated the Lakewood BlueClaws in Game 3 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series 6-3, putting them one win away from a league championship.

Lexington scored three runs in the top of the second. Cristian Perez singled with one out and advanced to second on a throwing error – one of five Lakewood errors on the night. (Lexington had four of their own.) Perez took third on a balk and scored on a double to left by Jeison Guzman. Ricky Aracena walked and Kyle Isbel singled to left, driving in Guzman with Aracena scoring from first on a fielding error, giving the Legends a 3-0 lead.

Lakewood got a run back in the bottom of the second with Nick Maton reaching on an error, Dalton Guthrie doubling him to third and a sac fly from Jose Antequera.

The Legends were quick to respond as they tacked on two runs in the top of the third. MJ Melendez led off with a walk and Nick Pratto followed with a single, with both advancing to second and third on a fielding error by BlueClaws right fielder Jhailyn Ortiz. Brewer Hicklen drove in Melendez with a fly ball to center and Pratto scored on a single by Perez, increasing their lead to 5-1.

Lakewood scored another run in the bottom of the third. Jake Scheiner singled to center, advanced to second on an error and third on a balk, and scored on a sac fly to right by Ortiz, making it a 5-2 ballgame.

2018 first rounder Daniel Lynch got the start and went four innings allowing five hits and two unearned runs while striking out four. He threw 79 pitches (57 strikes) and was up to 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.

Perhaps the turning point of the game was when Lynch came out and was replaced by Garrett Suchey in the bottom of the fifth. Scheiner led off with a single and Rodolfo Duran walked before Suchey was able to record an out, striking out Ortiz. Nick Maton singled to right to load the bases when Madison Stokes hit a fly ball to center field.

With the Legends playing in, it appeared off the bat the ball would carry well over center fielder Kyle Isbel’s head. But the Royals third round pick in June dove and got a glove on it, nearly making a remarkable catch. Still, the BlueClaws runners had to hold and advanced one base, allowing only one run to score. That was the end of Suchey’s night, as Legends manager Scott Thorman called on Collin Snider, who induced the double play ball to get the Legends out of further trouble and maintain the two-run lead.

Neither team would score again until the top of the ninth, when Isbel singled with two out, took second on a passed ball and advanced to third when the throw went into the outfield, and scored on another passed ball. He finished the night 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored.

Pratto (2-3, 2 BB, R), Perez (2-4, R, RBI) and Guzman (2-4, 2B, R, RBI) enjoyed multi-hit nights. Melendez finished 1-3 with two walks and a run scored.

Snider went 1.2 innings, allowing only one hit as he recorded the win. Daniel Duarte struck out four batters in two innings, allowing only one hit. Tad Ratliff struck out two in a perfect ninth to record the save.

The last Royals team to win a World Series won together in the minors. Now, what we hope to be part of the next wave, and one of the most fun teams to watch in the Royals organization in 2018, is one win away from a South Atlantic League title. They will attempt to accomplish that on Friday night.

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