Playoff Round 1
Rangers 6, Royals 5, 8 inn., game 1
Royals 17, Rangers 2, 5 inn., game 2
Royals 13, Rangers 8, game 3
The 2018 Playoffs didn't go as expected for the Rangers. Squaring off for the second straight postseason against the Kettering Royals, the Rangers showed a little bark, but the Royals had the last bite. The Rangers started strong, but needed a little extra-inning help to win game one 6-5 in 8 innings. But the offense sputtered in game two as the Royals run-ruled the Rangers 17-2 in 5 innings. The decisive game 3 was initially close, but a bad fifth inning could not be overcome, as the Rangers fell 13-8 to end their season.
Games 1 and 2 were set at blustery AIA Sports Complex in Xenia. As the Rangers couldn't take advantage of the wind blowing out, the Royals sure did on their side of things.
In game 1, Luke Trubee was sharp for 6 innings outside of one inning where the Royals smacked 3 home runs. The Rangers gave him early run support as Ben Schooler delivered with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the first. Schooler then added an RBI triple in the third and scored on Brandon Marshall's groundout for a 3-0 lead. In the fourth, Cody Pelfrey reached on an error and took second on a bad throw. After stealing third base, Pelfrey scampered home as the throw trickled into the outfield. The destructive fifth inning came, as Taylor Rogers, Ryan Callison, and Chris Flaherty all homered off of Trubee to give the Royals a 5-4 advantage. The Rangers would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth as Joe Becker beat out a double play ball to allow Marshall to score. Ryan Kemp relieved Trubee in the 7th and allowed a single but got out of the inning unscathed. But the Rangers couldn't do anything else in the bottom of the inning to send the game into extras. The Royals would get a leadoff double, but Kemp induced a groundout and struck out the next two batters to breathe life into the Rangers' half of the frame. Marshall led off with a walk and went to second on a single by Eric Becker. Pelfrey then hit a groundball to short, but the throw to first bounced away from the first baseman allowing Marshall to score the game-winner.
Game 2 was a whole different story. Kemp took the ball to start game two, but two defensive woes in the first two innings accounting for 9 runs, but only 1 was earned. Joe Becker would relieve Kemp, but there was still no stopping the Royals' lumber. The only scoring for the Rangers came from an RBI single from Chris Ridl, scoring Cody Pelfrey who earlier doubled. And Rob Pederson added an RBI hit to score Ridl in the fifth.
The decisive game 3 took place on Sunday at Howell Field. The Rangers sent veteran lefty Shawn Schmitt to the mound who had already defeated the Royals earlier in the season. The Royals' Patrick Rogers started the scoring with a leadoff double and would score on two groundouts later. The Rangers answered in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double from Rob Pederson and RBI singles from Ben Schooler, Cooper Nolte, and Jonmarc Lippincott. The Royals would tie the game in the third. The Rangers usually could stay away from the 'big inning' this season, but the Royals put up a 6-spot in the fifth and two more in the sixth to take a commanding 8-run lead. The Rangers tried to claw their way back into the game, scoring three times in the sixth and once in the seventh. Eric Becker had an RBI single and Cody Pelfrey added a 2-run double. The Royals would chip in an unearned run in the 9th, but the Rangers couldn't push anything across in the final two innings.
Offensive highlights: Ben Schooler 4-for-8, 3RBI, triple; Rob Pederson 3-for-5, 2RBI, 2 doubles; Chris Ridl 3-for-8, 2 runs, RBI, 3 SB.
Historical Notes: Shawn Schmitt is 7 strikeouts away from 900 Ks for his career.