Lexington Legends officials will always tell you that player development is job one for minor league baseball franchises.
But it’s nice to win some games once in a while, too.
That’s what the Legends have been doing since the second half of the 2017 South Atlantic League season began June 22.
They enter Friday night — Star Wars Night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark — tied for first place in the Southern Division with a 9-5 record.
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For a franchise that has made the playoffs only three times and posted just six winning seasons in its 17-year existence — and none since 2010 — that’s a move in the right direction.
Lexington has won six of its last seven games and four in a row, including Thursday night’s 8-5 win over West Virginia at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Lexington finished the first half of the season 34-35 and in fourth place in the division. Overall, the Legends are 43-40. The winners of the first and second halves of the season in each division advance to the playoffs.
The game was suspended Wednesday in the third inning because of rain and resumed Thursday.
The win, coupled with Charleston’s loss at Asheville, put the Legends into a first-place tie with the RiverDogs.
A five-run third inning put Lexington in front for good Thursday night.
Angelo Castellano and Luis Villegas each hit solo home runs as the Legends took a 6-2 lead after three innings.
After each team scored a run in the fifth inning, the Power added two in the sixth.
The Legends scored again in the bottom of the eighth. Yeison Melo led off with a double. Pinch runner Khalil Lee moved to third after a fly ball to center field by Villegas and scored on Marten Gasparini’s single, leaving the Legends with their final margin.
Jace Vines (8-4), who took over for starter Garrett Davila when the game resumed Thursday night, worked six innings and got the win. He struck out seven and walked none, and allowed three runs, all unearned.
Power starting pitcher James Marvel took the loss (3-6).
The game that had been regularly scheduled for Thursday night was postponed and will be made up at a later date.
Star Wars Night
Fans are encouraged to come to the ballpark dressed as their favorite Star Wars character on Friday night.
Lexington takes on Greenville at 7:05 p.m.
Fireworks are scheduled after the game.