Redlegs 8, Rangers 6, game 1
Redlegs 8, Rangers 2, game 2
The Rangers met up with the Camden Redlegs on Saturday, August 26 in the 2017 MVABL semifinals at Action Sports Center, hoping to end a 4-game losing skid in the Backyard Battle.
Cody Oakes took the hill for game 1 for the Rangers in a daunting task to stop a red-hot hitting Redlegs squad. Oakes made one mistake to Joey Watson in the first inning, a double resulting in three runs, and a questionable balk call that forced in a fourth run later in the frame.
Meanwhile, the Rangers had scoring opportunities thwarted with inning-ending double plays in the first two innings, include a perfectly executed relay from Redlegs left fielder Jared Bradley to cut down Ben Schooler at the plate.
Oakes looked to get out of trouble in the second after a pair of strikeouts with two runners aboard, but a well-place bloop double just inside the right field line by Kyle Arend put in a dagger in the hearts of the Rangers' defense. Another Redlegs RBI single put the Rangers in a dangerous 7-0 hole.
But the Rangers put a little something together in the third off Redlegs starter Kevin Campbell. With two outs, Rob Armour doubled and Nick Gilmore singled. Ben Schooler singled home Armour. A failed pickoff attempt by the catcher at first base allowed Gilmore to scamper around to score the second run of the inning. Ryan Kemp singled home Schooler to cut into the lead at 7-3. The Rangers made it 7-4 in the top of the fifth after an errant double-play attempt allowed Gilmore to score his second run of the game.
Kemp relieved Oakes in the second and kept the game within striking distance, holding the Redlegs to two hits in the next three innings. But the Redlegs manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth to double their lead to 8-4.
The Rangers looked for new life in the top of the 7th. Joe Becker worked a walk, but the next two batters failed to do any damage. So with two outs, Schooler was hit by a pitch for the second time and Ryan Kemp singled to load the bases. Brandon Marshall then stroked a two run single to right center to put the winning run at the plate. However, the strike zone wasn't our friend on the day as a two-strike, high curveball got Eric Becker looking to end the game.
The first inning of game 2 was just as unkind to the Rangers as the Redlegs put together 5 runs off of Rangers rookie Andrew Holland. Holland settled down and struck out 6 over 5 innings of work, allowing 2 unearned runs in the fourth and a run in the fifth.
The Rangers, on the other hand, were on the short end of figuring out how to drive home runners on base, stranding 8 over the first 4 innings against Redlegs' ace Aaron Carmack.
The Rangers pushed their only two runs of the game across in the fifth as Kemp and Marshall led off with singles. Joe Becker had a run-scoring single and Marshall scored on Jonmarc Lippincott's ground ball that was misplayed by the shortstop.
Joe Becker tossed 2 scoreless innings of relief to see if the Rangers could put together a late rally, but a pair of 5-4-3 double plays ruined any thoughts of a comeback and ultimately the end of the season.
The Backyard Battle has become a little one-sided as of late, as the Redlegs have reeled off 6 straight victories in the series and now carry a 14-13 advantage into next season.
Offensive highlights: Ryan Kemp 6-for-8, run, RBI, SB; Joe Becker 2-for-3, run RBI; Rob Armour 2-for-3, run, double
Historical Notes: Redlegs lead the Backyard Battle series 14-13.