Lexington Legends Manager Gregg Langbehn saw his first eight batters reach base during the first two innings of Wednesday night's game against the Lakewood BlueClaws. What he didn't see was a single one of them cross the plate.
”I told (hitting coach) Stubby (Clapp), "I don't even remember a time when the first eight batters of our lineup reach base and we haven't scored yet,'“ Langbehn said.
The Legends continued to reach base thanks to some wild Lakewood pitching and shaky defense, but they blew opportunity after opportunity, falling 4-2 at Applebee's Park to open a four-game home stand.
”Offensively we just squandered opportunities,“ Langbehn said. ”They gave us every opportunity to have multiple-run innings but we didn't take advantage of them.“
Lakewood's Jacob Diekman walked six, hit a batter and allowed 12 base runners during his six innings of work, but did just enough pick up his second win of the season. Diekman allowed only two runs on what he called an ”effectively wild“ performance.
”I definitely had trouble finding the strike zone,“ Diekman said.
The righty walked three batters with one out in the first to load the bases, but a pair of ground balls from Max Sapp and Jonathan Fixler left three Lexington runners on base.
The early inning struggles are nothing new for Diekman — his ERA is 7.50 in the first two innings this season — but after Lakewood scored a run in the first, second and third innings for a 3-0 lead, Diekman settled in.
”I think I get too jacked up for games,“ Diekman said.
Langbehn blamed the loss on the Legends' inability to come through in key situations. The Legends reached scoring position eight times, but mustered only two runs. They left 11 runners on base and grounded into three double plays.
”It's the little things that add up,“ Langbehn said. ”If your situational hitting isn't good, you're going to struggle.“
Lexington cut the score to 3-1 heading into the fourth inning on a fielder's choice and got within one run in the bottom of the fourth. Legends' third baseman Brandon Barnes appeared to hit a routine fly ball to center field, but Lakewood's Dominic Brown misplayed the ball and it sailed over his head for a double. Barnes' one-out double scored Russell Dixon, but Barnes was left stranded at second base.
After posting a win Tuesday night on the first day of July, the Legends were hoping a turn of the calendar would put behind a dreadful June, when they went 6-21.
Instead, a porous offense and blown opportunities sent the Legends to their fourth straight loss against the BlueClaws.