Playoffs Round 1
The 2019 playoff bracket kicked off with the final Backyard Battle of the season. The Rangers were knocked out in the first round by the Royals last year, and the year before were knocked out by these same Redlegs in 2017 in the semifinals.
The Rangers met up with the Redlegs at Howell Field, which would turn out to be a lengthy affair. Rangers starter Ben Schooler and Aaron Carmack of the Redlegs were nearly lights-out through regulation in game one.
Matt Morrison singled and scored the first run for the Redlegs in the bottom of the first. The Rangers had to wait until the fifth to strike. With two outs, Brandon Saylor doubled and scored on a triple from Nick Gilmore. The score stayed 1-1 after 7 complete. In the top of the 8th, Kyle Moyer's triple plated Brandon Marshall with the go-ahead run. However, the Redlegs got a triple from Brad Malott and a sac fly from Matt Mattice to keep the game going in extras.
The 2-2 game carried into the 11th inning as Michael Cookson worked on his second inning of relief behind Carmack. In the top of the 11th, Eric Becker was hit by a pitch. After a wild pitch and passed ball moved Becker to third, Saylor came through with a run-scoring single to give the Rangers a 3-2 advantage. Meanwhile, Schooler would set down the final 10 Redlegs batters to give the Rangers an important game one victory. Schooler pitched all 11 innings, scattering 10 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and 2 punchouts.
The Rangers sent their ace Joe Becker to the mound for what hoped to be a game two victory. Things looked to be going the Rangers' way early as Brandon Marshall singled home Nick Gilmore for an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Redlegs tied it in the top of the third on an RBI double from Kyle Arend.
In the bottom of the fourth, Eric Becker sent a ball deep to the left centerfield gap that just barely eluded the glove of a diving Jacob Robinson, and Dominic Kuzujanakis and Moyer scored to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. The Rangers added on another run in the fourth as Marshall reached on an error, allowing Nick Gilmore to score from third.
Even though the Redlegs appeared down, they most definitely were not out. In the top of the sixth, Joey Watson homered to deep left field. After a double by Brandon Howard and an error, James Robinson singled home Howard. Morrison followed with a run-scoring single, and Kyle Arend smacked a 2-run single to give the Redlegs a 6-4 lead.
But the Rangers didn't bow out either as Joe Becker had an RBI single, and Rob Pederson's misplayed ground ball allowed Jonmarc Lippincott to score the tying run in the bottom of the 6th. However, the Redlegs piled on a walk and 3 straight hits to score 3 more times to ultimately win game two 9-6, and force a deciding game 3 the next day.
The winner-take-all game three took place at Madison high school where Brandon Saylor would toe the rubber for the Rangers in his first playoff mound appearance, and he would not disappoint.
Rob Pederson kicked off the offense in the top of the first inning with the first of his 5 singles on the day. Gilmore would run for him and eventually come around to score on a wild pitch for the first run of the game. Lippincott had an RBI groundout and Gilmore laced an RBI single to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the second on Redlegs starter Kevin Campbell. In the third, Joe Becker walked with the bases loaded, and Marshall would score from third on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 5-0.
The Redlegs got one run in the third on an RBI groundout from Watson. But the Rangers got the run back in the top of the fourth on an RBI single from Pederson. Joe Becker, Lippincott, and Eric Becker singled in succession in the sixth to make it a 7-1 ballgame.
In the top of the 7th, Markus Neff's 3-run home run made it 10-1. The Redlegs finally got to Saylor in the 7th inning though, putting up four runs, keyed by Arend's 3-run home run. With two outs and two on, Joe Becker would relieve Saylor and induce a groundout to end the rally attempt. Saylor did strike out 10 batters and only allowed 5 hits, but it was the 9 walks that forced the coach to make the switch.
Now a 10-5 game, the Rangers would continue to pound out 6 singles and a double in the 8th, with RBIs coming from Saylor, Pederson, Schooler, and Matt Wargacki to increase the score to 15-5. Watson's 2-run single and Nick Davis' RBI double gave the Redlegs 3 more runs in the bottom of the 8th.
The Rangers had scored in every inning but the 5th in this game, and that trend continued in the ninth as Lippincott led off the inning with a home run to left field. Pederson and Moyer added RBI singles and Schooler had a sac fly to make it 19-8. The Redlegs managed a run in the 9th, but a solid outing from both Saylor and Becker and a breakthrough game on offense propelled the Rangers into the semifinals to face the South Dayton Slammers on September 7.
Rangers 3, Redlegs 2,
Redlegs 9, Rangers 6,
Rangers 19, Redlegs 9,
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 4-for-13, 6 runs, 2 RBIs, triple, 3 SBs; Rob Pederson 6-for-15, 2 RBIs, double; Brandon Marshall 7-for-15, 4 runs, double; Kyle Moyer 7-for-11, 3 runs, 3 RBIs, triple, 2 SBs; Joe Becker 3-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs
Historical Notes: The Rangers evened up the Backyard Battles series at 19-19. Rob Pederson had a career-high 5 hits in game 3. Nick Gilmore had a career-best 4 runs scored in game 3.