Boosted by a big night from leadoff batter Kyle Isbel, the Lexington Legends topped the Lakewood BlueClaws 6-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship Series on Thursday night. The Legends now need to win one of two potential remaining games in Lakewood to bring home the club’s first SAL championship since 2001.
Isbel, a third-round selection by the Kansas City Royals in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft, drove in a pair of runs with a single in the top of the second to cap a three-run inning. The Legends added two more runs in the following inning on an RBI-single by Christian Perez and a sacrifice fly by Brewer Hicklen, who played a big role in the team’s playoff push after being recalled to Lexington to replace injured star Seuly Matias.
The Legends took a 5-3 lead into the top of the ninth, where Isbel notched his second hit of the game, a one-out single to center field. he later scored on a two-out wild pitch to put the Legends ahead by three runs.
After Lakewood pulled within 5-3, the Legends’ relievers buckled down. Collin Snider, Daniel Duarte and Tad Ratliff combined to allow just two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings. Duarte and Ratliff struck out six of the BlueClaws’ last nine batters. Ratliff has picked up the save in each of the Legends’ two series wins.
Nick Pratto, Perez and Jeison Guzman ended up with two hits apiece in the win.
In 39 games since being promoted to Lexington, Isbel is batting .289 with three home runs and 15 RBI.
Lakewood hosts Game 4 on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Should the Legends lose, Lakewood will host the series-deciding Game 5 on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.