The Lexington Legends scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night to claim a 6-4 victory over the Hickory Crawdads in Game 1 of their South Atlantic League Championship Series at Hickory, N.C.
The Legends are trying to win the South Atlantic League for the second year in a row and the third time ever.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series was set for Tuesday night at Hickory. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night in Lexington. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would be Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Lexington, champions of the SAL’s Southern Division, were locked in a 3-3 tie with Hickory, champions of the Northern Division, entering the ninth inning Monday night.
Nathan Eaton got things going for the Legends in the ninth by beating out a bunt for a single with one out. Reed Rohlman followed with a sharp single to left. Nick Hutchins then doubled to score Eaton with the go-ahead run. John Rave provided insurance by driving home Rohlman and Hutchins with a single to center field.
The Legends brought on Brandon Marklund to protect their lead in the bottom of the ninth. Hickory’s Miguel Aparicio walked and later scored with the help of an error but the Canadian-born right-hander was able to shut things down from there and save Lexington’s 6-4 win.
Marklund was the fourth Legends pitcher on the night. Starter Jon Heasley allowed three runs and five hits over five innings. Daniel James pitched a scoreless sixth, and Kyle Hinton picked up the win by throwing two shutout innings.
Shortstop Jeison Guzman and second baseman Rubendy Jaquez each contributed two hits to the Legends’ nine-hit attack. Guzman also drove in a game-high three runs, which included a two-run home run in the third inning.
The Legends escaped with the Game 1 victory despite committing four errors.
SAL Championship Series
Lexington vs. Hickory
Game 1: Legends 6, Crawdads 4
Game 2: Legends at Crawdads (n)
Game 3: Crawdads at Legends, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4: Crawdads at Legends, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 5: Crawdads at Legends, 1:05 p.m. (if necessary)