Lexington Legends

Lexington Legends one step away from second straight championship after playoff sweep

The Lexington Legends are now one step away from their second straight championship and third overall in team history.

The Legends completed a two-game sweep of the Augusta GreenJackets in the South Atlantic League Southern Division Championship Series, winning 4-2 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Friday night behind a solid outing from former University of Kentucky star pitcher Zach Haake.

The Legends edged Augusta 2-1 on the road in the opening game of the best-of-three series on Wednesday. On Friday night, they took the lead with a three-run fourth inning that included a home run by Rubendy Jaquez and an RBI single by Nathan Eaton.

“He’s been a pretty good spark plug for us all year,” Legends Manager Brooks Conrad said, according to a report on MiLB.com. “That home run he hit was awesome. It got us going with a run on the board and we got a few more that inning.”

Augusta pulled within 3-2 and chased Haake from the game in the top of the fifth on a two-run double by Simon Whiteman. The Legends got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Jaquez scored on a wild pitch. The GreenJackets had runners on first and second and the go-ahead run at the plate with two outs in the top of the ninth, but Brandon Marklund struck out Franklin Labour on a full-count to clinch the win and send the Legends to their second straight South Atlantic League Championship Series.

“His awareness on the basepaths has really honed in over the course of the season,” Conrad told MiLB.com about Jaquez. “He’s always looking for a ball in the dirt and him on the bases is a threat. Having 30 stolen this year, he does a really good job of going first-to-third on balls. He’s ready. ... He’s always ready.”

Haake struck out seven and allowed six hits and two runs over 4 1/3 innings. Daniel James picked up the win, allowing no hits and striking out two over 2 2/3 innings. Jaquez went 2-for-3 and drew a walk from the lead-off spot. Eaton also went 2-for-3 at the plate.

The Legends will face the Hickory Crawdads in the best-of-five SAL Championship Series. Hickory swept the Delmarva Shorebirds in the Northern Division Championship Series, winning 1-0 in 10 innings on Friday.

Championship series

Legends vs. Crawdads

Games 1-2: 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in Hickory, N.C.

Game 3: 7:05 p.m. Thursday in Lexington

Game 4 (if necessary): 7:05 p.m. Friday in Lexington

Game 5 (if necessary): 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Lexington

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Josh Sullivan has worked at the Herald-Leader for more than 10 years in multiple capacities, including as a news assistant, page designer, copy editor and sports reporter. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Lexington native.