Round 1 Playoffs
Rangers 7, Royals 5, game 1
Rangers 6, Royals 3, game 2
The Dayton Rangers played their way into the No. 3 seed in the 2017 playoffs with a dramatic season finale victory over the Kettering Royals last week. Those same Royals would be the opponent for the opening round in this year's postseason at Howell Field. The last time the Rangers and Royals met in the opening round was in 2005, and the last time they met in the postseason was in the championship in 2013.
The Rangers got on the board in the bottom of the first as Brandon Riley reached base on an error and ultimately scored on a passed ball. Another fielding miscue by the Royals allowed another run to score in the second.
Zane Vogelsang connected on a two-run home run off of Rangers starter Joe Becker to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. RBI singles from Evan Koogler and Nick Stacy doubled the Royals' lead at 4-2. From that point on though, Becker turned it up a notch to allow the offense to fire up.
In the bottom of the fourth, Jonmarc Lippincott stroked a two-out single to score Eric Becker, and Brandon Riley followed with a laser to right field to score Nick Gilmore to tie the game. The Rangers took the lead as a wild pitch allowed Lippincott to barely beat the return throw to the plate.
The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the fifth when the Royals turned to the bullpen to bring in lefty flamethrower Michael Cookson to face Cody Oakes. Oakes, down in an 0-2 hole, drilled a grounder to short, which forced the runner at second, but the relay throw to first was off-line ultimately allowing 2 runners to score.
Becker did allow a run in the 7th but the defense hung on to help him earn the complete game win, his first victory since June 4.
The offense continued to click to start off game 2 against Cookson as Brandon Riley led off with a sharp single up the middle and Lippincott followed with base hit. After a wild pitch, Kemp's grounder to the right side allowed Riley to score the first run of the game. With two outs, history was made as Eric Becker rolled a ball through the right side where a diving attempt from the second baseman could not get Becker resulting in the team's 7000th franchise hit! The hit also plated Lippincott with the second run of the inning.
The Rangers continued to play small ball to manufacture runs. Gilmore singled to start the second, went to second on botched pickoff attempt, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a ground ball to second from Cooper Nolte.
The Royals offense got to starter Ryan Kemp in the second with the help of a fielding error. Nick Stacy and John Ramsey each drove in a run for the Royals as they cut into the Rangers lead at 3-2.
In the top of the third, Ryan Kemp walked with one out. After another pickoff attempt went awry, Kemp scampered all the way to third base. Brandon Marshall's groundout to short plated Kemp for a 4-2 lead. Eric Becker stayed hot with the bat with his team-high 33rd hit of the season. After Stephen Hoendorf was hit by a pitch, and a passed ball put both runners in scoring position, Gilmore came through with a clutch two-run single to cushion the Rangers' lead to 6-2.
Royals catcher Christian Evans drove in a run in the bottom of the third to split the deficit to 6-3. A pitcher's duel ensued from that point on as Kemp blanked the Royals, and Brennan Flaherty did the same against the Rangers in the final four frames. Kemp picked up the complete game win, striking out 9.
The Rangers advance to the semifinal series against the Camden Redlegs on Saturday, August 26 at Action Sports Center at 1pm and 4pm.
Offensive highlights: Jonmarc Lippincott 2-for-4, 2R, RBI; Eric Becker 4-for-7, 3R, RBI, SB; Nick Gilmore 2-for-5, 3R, 2RBI; Andrew Holland 1-1 double.
Historical Notes: Eric Becker's first inning single in game 2 was the franchise's 7000th hit. The game 1 victory was the team's 50th all-time playoff win (51-36). Joe Becker improved his record to 7-2 in playoff games.