If it's one thing we know for sure this season, the Rangers are having difficulty shutting down opponents in their final at-bats. The same played true Thursday night at Oak Grove Park in Centerville against the Kettering Royals.
The Rangers fell victim to a monumental comeback by the Royals, spoiling a 4-run lead in the 7th to lose in extras 18-15 on a walkoff home run. Of their 7 losses this season, the Rangers have lost 4 with the opponent winning in their final at-bat; 3 of which were walk-off losses; and 2 of which occurred in extra innings. None of which have happened in a single season in 22 years of Rangers baseball.
The "Rangers 9" were outnumbered from the start but there was no backing down even after falling into a 5-0 hole after just one inning of play. The Rangers fought back to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the third. With two outs, Nick Gilmore and Eric Becker started things going with singles. After a HBP to Stephen Hoendorf, Brandon Marshall singled home Gilmore. Jonmarc Lippincott then smacked a single off the fence to drive in two runs. Cody Pelfrey then drove a double in the gap to score two more to tie the game.
The Royals got a run in the bottom of the third to regain the lead. But the Rangers answered in the top of the fourth with a two-run home run from Brandon Marshall to take the lead 7-6. However, the Royals responded with another run to tie the game 7-7 after 4 complete.
The fifth inning saw three straight hits from Chris Ridl, Joe Becker and Brody Dunlevy resulting in one run scored. After a walk to load the bases, Hoendorf lofted a high flyball down the left field line that dropped in for a bases-clearing double.
With an 11-7 lead, the Rangers still couldn't stop the Royals from tallying a run as they put a run across in the bottom of the fifth to make 11-8 and then three more in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game again.
The Rangers rallied in the top of the seventh, batting around and scoring 4 times. With two outs and two runners aboard, Lippincott laced a single to left, scoring Eric Becker to take the lead. Ridl added an infield RBI single and a dropped popup allowed two more runs to score to make it 15-11.
With no bullpen help to turn to, the Rangers stuck with their workhorse Joe Becker. But with no wiggle room in the strike zone all night, the Royals continued to put the ball in play, resulting in 5 singles and 4 runs to force extra innings.
The Rangers went out quietly in the 8th. But as bad luck would have it, Royals' third baseman Brian Corbett belted his second HR of the game, this time a walk-off 3-run shot.
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 3-for-5, 2 runs, triple; Eric Becker 2-for-5, 3 runs, SB; Stephen Hoendorf 2-for-5, 2 runs, 3RBI, double; Brandon Marshall 2-for-6, 2 runs, 3RBI, HR; Jonmarc Lippincott 2-for-4, 2 runs, 3RBI; Cody Pelfrey 1-for-3, 2 RBI, double; Chris Ridle 2-for-4 RBI.
Historical Notes: Stephen Hoendorf has doubled in each of his 5 games this season. Joe Becker pitched in his 100th career game. Becker is 2 strikeouts away from moving into 2nd place all-time in Rangers history. Eric Becker is 1 run shy of reaching 100 runs scored in MVABL league play, and his next official at-bat will be his 500th in the MVABL.