Games 11, 12
Rangers lose in heart break; come back strong to split with the Redlegs
In the 49th meeting between the Rangers and the Redlegs, veteran Aaron Carmack started on the mound to face the leadoff hitter A.J. Enginger, notably the first game Nick Gilmore hasn’t led off for the Rangers in years. Carmack got the best of the Rangers in the first inning collecting 2 ground outs, a walk, and a strikeout. Brandon Saylor took the mound and the Redlegs came to the plate and got started early. Jake Robinson walked, which allowed for one of the best at-bats of the game very early. Brad Mallott doubled over the head of Chris Ridl giving the Redlegs an early 1-0 lead. After a groundball advanced Brad from second to third, he was able to score on a wild pitch which ended the action of the first inning giving the Redlegs a 2-0 lead after only one inning.
Carmack continued to be hot through the second with the only threat coming from Kyle Moyer with a base knock up the middle. Aside from that, the Rangers bats were still quiet and the inning ended still at 2-0. Saylor dialed in during the second inning and the Rangers bats got hot in the top of the third. Eric Becker led off with a hit up the middle, advanced to second on a passed ball took third on a groundout by Kujo. With 2 outs and Eric at third, Michael Seebock was clutch with an infield single right to the shortstop's backhand side. The throw was just too much for Brad to handle. An error forced Seebock to second and Rob Pederson garnered his first RBI of the game with a sharp groundball between the first and second basemen. Finally, the game was knotted up 2-2.
Just as the Rangers took the lead, the bottom of the third approached and a walk, single, and fielders choice scored a run for the Redlegs. Thankfully after a threatening bottom of the inning, Saylor got out of the jam only allowing one run. Rangers rookie Ryan Kirkendall tripled with two out and the already-hot Kyle Moyer had another line drive single one again tying the game 3-3.
An incredible game was in the works as there was no scoring action until the bottom of the 6th inning. With Saylor still on the mound, he gave up two weak base hits but with two outs, Coach Gilmore allowed for him to go the distance. Knowing that Tyler Eaton, who coaches with Brandon Saylor at Brookville, was coming to the plate, the story had been written. Saylor got Tyler to an 0-2 count, then threw the mistake pitch. Saylor hung a cutter which Tyler drove to right centerfield for a single, giving the Redlegs a 4-3 lead. Ben Schooler was inserted to relieve Saylor throwing one pitch and inducing a ground ball. To start the 7th, Kyle Moyer reached on an error, but the Rangers could not squeeze out the W as the next three batters went in order. Again, Saylor pitched a great game striking out 7 and only giving up 4 hits.
With the start of game 2, Gilmore opted to give the start Kenny Owens who has had significant success against the Redlegs in the past. Gilmores plan worked to start, Kenny went 1-2-3 forcing two ground outs and a pop out to 2 former league MVP’s and the last being a multiple time all-star. The bottom of the inning started with a bang. The new guy at the leadoff job, AJ Enginger started off hot driving the ball to right centerfield. Unluckily for us, Jake Robinson had an incredible throw to second, cutting him off and giving the Rangers an out rather than a lead off double. With nobody on and one out, Rob Pederson shows signs of his success last season obliterating a ball over the right field fence for his first homerun of the season.
That gives the Rangers an early 1-0 lead with Kenny once again dominating the Redlegs with a notably 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. In the bottom of the second, the Rangers stole a second run from the Redlegs as the run was captivated through an error, a walk, and a wild pitch. Nonetheless, 2-0 was the lead after 2 innings.
The Redlegs began to figure out Kenny at the top of the 3rd inning. After a walk, the bottom of their order got hot. Two hits strung together allowed a run, minimizing the lead to only one run. This gave the top of their order a chance. Hall of famer Jake Robinson singled up the middle, then the second hall of famer, Joey Watson singled into right field. This string of hits switch the advantage to the Redlegs with a score of 4-2. The Rangers answered in the same inning with three singles by Jaret, Seebock, and AJ the bases were loaded for the man you want in that situation, Rob Pederson. Rob hit a deep fly ball to the left fielder which was enough for a sacrifice fly. Ben then singled into right field taking the advantage back 5-4 Rangers.
Joe Becker made his way out to the mound and after last week’s fake out, he finally was about the achieve his 500th strikeout. The 500th strikeout is a feat which as only been achieved by three other pitchers, all of which are also hall of famers. Aside from the milestone, Joe worked his way through the inning giving up only one hit. The bottom of the inning was quiet and Coach Gilmore opted to stick with the veteran Joe Becker through the top of the fifth inning and everything went to plan as Joe again got out of the inning, facing the top of the line, in 1-2-3 fashion.
The Rangers bats woke up a bit in the bottom of the 5th inning. Jaret singled, Seebock was hit by a pitch, and again, Rob Pederson drove Jaret in, singling hard to right field. Coach Gilmore called to the bullpen for rookie pitcher Ryan Kirkendall. Citing that the Redlegs hadn’t seen Kirkendall pitch, Gilmore’s intuition worked in the favor of the Rangers. Kirkendall induced a pop out then struck out the next two batters for his first career Ranger K’s. Gilmore led off the bottom of the 6th with a line drive double near the foul line which was thankfully fair. Chris Ridl drove him in with a single and the Rangers took a heftier lead, 7-4. In the last inning, Coach Gilmore called to the pen for the Infamous Closer. Kraynak took the mound and did Kraynak things facing only four batters and slamming the door shut on the Redlegs comeback hopes.
Redlegs 4, Rangers 3
Rangers 7, Redlegs 4
Offensive highlights: Rob Pederson: 3-5 1 run, 3RBI, HR, SF, SB; AJ Enginger: 2-6, run; Ben Schooler: 3-5, BB, RBI; Jaret Quinn 2-4, 2 runs; SB
Historical Notes: Joe Becker struck out Eric Jameson for his 500th career strikeout. The Rangers lead the Backyard Battle series 27-23.