The Rangers ran into a brick wall named Beall as their hopes for a 4th league championship were dashed on Saturday, Sept 19 at the Warren County Sports Park.
Ben Schooler got the tough assignment to go against the league Cy Young winner in Jeff Beall of the South Dayton Slammers. The Slammers took advantages of 3 walks to get a sac fly and a 2-run single from Mark Barhorst to go ahead 3-0 after an inning. The Rangers got one run back as Jonmarc Lippincott's flyball got lost in the sun for a double, and he would score on Eric Becker's single. But that was all she wrote for the Rangers offense as Beall only allowed 2 more hits the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Schooler settled in and blanked the Slammers in the 2nd through 4th innings. But the error bug bit the Rangers in the fifth, culminating in 5 more runs for the Slammers. Eric Becker relieved Schooler in the sixth and allowed 6 more runs over the final two innings, including home runs from league MVP Dan Barhorst and his brother Todd Barhorst, as the Slammers took the first game in run-rule fashion 13-1.
Hope sprung eternal for game two as the Rangers sent Brandon Saylor to the mound. However, free passes (11 total in the game) once again hurt the Rangers. The Slammers took advantage of 5 walks, a HBP, and 2-run hits from Nick Wissman and Sean Phillips to build a 6-0 lead before the Rangers could even bat. As has been the theme most of the year for the Slammers, they would hand the ball to Beall yet again to keep the Rangers' offense in stall-mode. Markus Neff did connect a long solo HR in the fourth inning as Beall exited with a 9-1 lead through 5 innings. With a new look on the mound, the Rangers offense found new life against reliever Nick Wissman. Nick Gilmore would hit a solo home run off the righty, and after Rob Pederson reached on an error and Schooler was hit by a pitch, Neff launched a 3-run blast to straight away center to make it a 9-5 ballgame. The Slammers got a run back in the top of the 7th after a couple walks and a double-steal. The Rangers continued their valiant comeback attempt in the bottom of the 7th as Lippincott led off with a single. With Moyer running for Lippincott, he would steal second. Chris Ridl's dribbler to the pitcher was thrown away at first allowing Moyer to score. Gilmore's groundout later in the frame plated Ridl to cut the deficit to 10-7.
But in a repeat of last season's semifinal matchup with the Slammers, just as the Rangers found life in a non-Beall pitcher, coach Anderson turned the ball back over to Beall in the final two innings to stop the bleeding.
The Rangers finish the season at 18-9, the most wins in a season since 2015.
Offensive highlights: Markus Neff 2-for-7, 2R, 4RBI, 2 HRs; Nick Gilmore 4-for-6, 2RBI, HR, SB
Historical Notes: The Rangers fall to 3-5 in championship series.