Lexington Legends

Pellegrini is exception in Lexington's slump

It seems that the finest ladies' stockings are more likely to produce runs these days than the Lexington Legends are.

On Thursday night, former Ballard High lefty Richard Sullivan fired four perfect innings as Rome rocked the Legends 10-6 at Applebee's Park.

The Legends have lost seven games in a row and nine of 10. Lexington has scored 23 runs over 13 games, an average of 1.77 a game.

Yet, the Legends' woes would be worse without Brian Pellegrini.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound left fielder has the team's only homer in July.

On Thursday, he broke up Sullivan's perfecto, leading off the fifth inning with a sharp, opposite-field single to right. He eventually scored Lexington's first run. He added a two-run triple and scored in the eighth inning.

“He's up there in the league leaders in home runs, and he missed the first six weeks of the season,” Manager Gregg Langbehn said before Thursday's game. “He had an excellent month of June. The first week or so of this month he kind of got a little homer-happy. He was coming off of some pitches. But he's made better adjustments and he's done a good job of filling a need that we badly needed in the middle of the order.”

Through Wednesday, Pelle­grini was tied for ninth in the league with 14 homers over 48 games, with 41 RBI.

Pellegrini attended Willoughby South High School — just a mile or two from the Lake County Captains' home near Cleveland.

He also played basketball and was an all-state linebacker in high school.

“I loved football,” said Pellegrini, who also played tight end. “But it came down to what would I rather do more — get hit or hit something.”

So he played college baseball for St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies won the Atlantic 10 title his freshman season. Pellegrini was a two-time conference Player of the Year and, as a senior, an All-American.

The Astros took him in the 12th round of the 2007 draft.

His rookie season with Tri-City lasted all of five games and 14 at-bats before his pelvis was “thrown out of whack.” The pelvis hasn't been a problem this season, but he opened 2008 in extended spring training, moving from first base to left field. He was promoted May 14 to Lexington.

“I would have liked to have been here from the start, but I was in a little bit of a hole because of what happened last year with the injury,” Pellegrini said. “But I feel like I'm recovered pretty well right now.”

And don't be fooled by his football-like body. He has five stolen bases in six attempts.

“He's deceptively fast. He's got pretty quick feet,” Langbehn said. “A lot of people think he's just a fullback. He's a big kid. There's not a whole lot of body fat on him. He's thick and solid and fast.”

■ Every Rome starter had at least one of the team's 16 hits, led by Frederick Freeman and C.J. Lee with three each. All had at least one RBI or one run scored.

The Legends committed four errors. Jake Leonhardt's pitching line: 12⁄3 innings, seven runs, one earned.

Six of the Legends' seven hits were singles.

■ When Legends hitting coach Stubby Clapp takes leave to play second base for the Canadian Olympic team, his spot will be filled by Todd Self, bench coach for 2A Corpus Christi. Self will report within the week.