Rangers 11, Royals 8
The Dayton Rangers (14-10) wrapped up the 2017 regular season with a come-from-behind victory and catapulting them into a third place seeding for the upcoming playoffs.
It took a complete team effort to knock off the Kettering Royals 11-8 at Howell Field. Every single player had a key role in what hopefully will be the jump start the team needs to survive a tough postseason path.
Joe Becker was handed the ball to start the finale in a gutsy performance coming off 4 innings in the All-Star Game the day before. The Royals pushed two runs across in the bottom of the second to take an early 2-0 lead on the Rangers. The Rangers answered with three runs off of Royals' ace Ryan Valentine.
Nick Gilmore led the inning off with a triple to the left-center field gap. Ben Schooler followed with an RBI double. Brandon Marshall doubled over the left fielder's head to score Schooler. Stephen Hoendorf followed with a run-scoring single to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
But the lead was short-lived as the Royals put up a 3-spot of their own in the bottom of the third to go up 5-3. On the other hand, the Rangers got the three runs back in the top of the fourth. After Gilmore reached on a throwing error, Schooler singled and Marshall walked to load the bases with two outs. Eric Becker then worked a bases-loaded walk, and Cooper Nolte came through with a clutch two-run single to give the Rangers a one-run lead.
The Royals continued to peck away, scoring one in the fourth and two in the fifth for an 8-6 advantage. The Rangers then turned the ball over to Ryan Meinert, still searching for his first win of the season. And Meinert was outstanding in relief, tossing 4 shutout innings to give the Rangers their opportunity to come back.
The comeback started in the seventh as a couple of fielder's choices resulted in a run. A Brandon Marshall RBI single in the 8th knotted the score at 8-8.
In the top of the ninth, Jonmarc Lippincott blooped a single over the shortstop's head with one out to put the go-ahead runner on base. Nolte courtesy-ran for Lippincott, which proved to be a smart move as Cooper scampered all the way to third on a wild pitch. Joe Becker then smoke a linedrive single through a drawn-in infield to plate Nolte with the go-ahead run. Brody Dunlevy smacked his third hit of the game, a double to the opposite field, allowing Becker to trot home. The late throw to the plate allowed Dunlevy to move to third. Once again, with a drawn-in infield, rookie Andrew Holland rapped a curveball into left field to score Dunlevy and give the Rangers an 11-8 lead.
The Royals put the first 2 runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth, but Meinert issued an infield popup and two fielder's choices to blank the Royals.
Ryan picked up his first win of the year. If it wasn't for the one bad inning he had against the Boars, his 7.71 ERA would actually be 3.00.
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 1-for-5, 3 runs, triple; Ben Schooler 2-for-5, double, 2R, RBI; Brandon Marshall 2-for-5, double, 2R, 2RBI; Eric Becker 2-for-4, RBI; Cooper Nolte 1-for-4, 2RBI; Brody Dunlevy 3-for-5, double, RBI; Andrew Holland 1-for-2, 2RBI.
Historical Notes: The Rangers need 11 more hits to reach 7000 franchise base-knocks. With the 9th inning single, Jonmarc continued his streak of batting averages of .300 or greater to 21 consecutive seasons.