Rangers Sweep Machine, Jump into 2nd Place
As expected with a battle of Top 4 teams in the MVABL standings, the Rangers and host Machine battled it out in a back-and-forth affair with the Rangers coming through with a pair of close wins at Carroll high school. The DH saw 9 lead changes and a handful of clutch hits as the Rangers won their 5th straight game to move into second place in the standings.
Game one started off well for the Rangers as Nick Gilmore led off with a double and came around to score on Rob Pederson's run-scoring single. But Machine catcher Jake Banks tied things up with an RBI double off Rangers starter Brandon Saylor in the bottom of the first.
The Rangers took the lead right back as Cooper Nolte singled and Kyle Moyer smashed his 2nd home run of the season. But the Machine countered with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the 2nd to take the lead. Saylor, coming off a stellar weeknight performance, just couldn't find a good rhythm and was replaced by Ben Schooler.
Schooler pitched lights-out for 3 1/3 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 6 to keep the Rangers in the game. In the top of the 5th, AJ Enginger blooped a single to right to score Nolte and tie the game at 4-4. After a walk to Ryan Kirkendall and Enginger at third, Chris Ridl hit a sac fly to second base to score Enginer with the go-ahead run.
The Rangers turned to their closer Hunter Kraynak in the bottom of the sixth. However, Kraynak blew the save opportunity as Griffin McCauley belted his first MVABL HR to tie the game at 5 a piece. In the top of the 7th, the Rangers loaded the bases for Moyer, who drilled a first-pitch fastball over the center fielder's head for a 3-run double. One batter later, Kirkendall smoked a line drive HR to left for his 3rd longball of the season. The Machine didn't go quietly as Aaron Strausbaugh had an RBI triple and scored on a dropped third strike. Kraynak got Chris Hoffman to fly out to the fence in left to end the game and earn the vulture win 10-7.
Kenny Owens got the call to start game two and was rudely greeted with a 3-run bomb from Machine catcher Jake Banks in the bottom of the first. The Rangers got a couple of those runs back in the top of the second as Markus Neff and Nolte scored on an error. After Eric Becker doubled to put runners on second and third, Chris Ridl came through with an RBI single and Becker scampered home after a fielding miscue to give the Rangers a 4-3 advantage. Jaret Quinn plated Ridl with a 2-out single as the Rangers took a 5-3 lead. Both Owens and Machine starter Andrew Madlinger settled in as the game remained that way headed into the bottom of the 5th.
Machine star rookie Aaron Strausbaugh hit a 3-run double to give the Machine a 6-5 lead. Joe Becker relieved Kenny and stopped the bleeding. Then it was Rangers star rookie Ryan Kirkendall's turn, and he deposited his 2nd HR of the day to kick off the top of the 6th inning and tie the game at 6-6. Looking for another clutch hit, it was Eric Becker's turn as his single to left with 2 outs, scored Moyer to give the Rangers a one-run lead.
Kirkendall relieved Becker with 2 out in the bottom of the 7th and with one pitch got Joel Turner to fly out to earn his first save as a Ranger.
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 3-for-7 run, double; Rob Pederson 2-for-6 RBI; Ben Schooler 1-for-3, run; Markus Neff 2-for-5, 2 runs; Cooper Nolte 4-for-6, 4 runs, double; Kyle Moyer 3-for-5, 3 runs, 5 RBI, double, HR; AJ Enginger 1-for-3, run, RBI, 2 SB; Ryan Kirkendall 3-for-5, 2 runs, 3RBI, 2 HRs; Eric Becker 4-for-5, run, RBI, double; Chris Ridl 2-for-5, run, 2 RBIs