Lexington Legends

Legends' lack of clutch play dulls home opener's festivities

Kannapolis shortstop David Herbek tagged Lexington's Drew Muren on a steal attempt that ended the Legends' threat in the sixth inning of their home opener at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Thursday.
Kannapolis shortstop David Herbek tagged Lexington's Drew Muren on a steal attempt that ended the Legends' threat in the sixth inning of their home opener at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Thursday. Lexington Herald-Leader

Based on crowd reaction, highlights from the Lexington Legends' home opener Thursday night included:

■ Kentucky basketball player Darius Miller throwing a ceremonial first pitch;

■ Paintsville teenager Marlana VanHoose's stirring renditions of the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America and My Old Kentucky Home;

■ Post-game fireworks.

Noticeably absent from the highlights: the Legends.

The Kannapolis Intimidators spoiled Lexington's opener, 9-4, before an announced crowd of 7,650 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

"We battled, but we didn't battle enough to win the game," said Legends Manager Ivan DeJesus, whose team fell to 2-6. "You can compete, but you've got to compete to win the game. We had the same trouble the last four games that we lost, the same situation — our starter goes three innings and we have to go through the bullpen and they have to pick him up.

"We've got to be more aggressive. We've got to do the job with runners in scoring position."

Keenyn Walker, a first-round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox last June, led the Intimidators by going 5-for-5 with five RBI.

"I was relaxed. Just went out and had fun," said Walker, a Salt Lake City resident who played for Central Arizona College last year.

"Growing up in Utah definitely helped," Walker said of his ability to adjust to chilly conditions (58 degrees and falling for the 7:07 start).

Jordan Scott had three of the Legends' seven hits and Delino DeShields Jr. had two.

Lexington's top performer, though, was Luis Cruz. He came out of the bullpen to fire four innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

"I throw hard and work hard. I throw everything," said Cruz, who struck out five and did not walk a batter.

He said he's used to starting, so coming on in relief can be "difficult for me. But work hard. It's the same game."

Kannapolis used second-inning doubles by Leighton Pangilinan and Walker to take a 1-0 lead.

Joe DePinto knocked a two-out triple in the third inning, then scored on Kevan Smith's infield single to make it 2-0.

That opened the floodgates for a five-run inning.

A single and walk loaded the bases for Walker, who delivered a two-run single.

Two more scored on Dusty Harvard's double to make it 6-0.

Martin Medina followed with a single, but right fielder Emilio King gunned down Harvard at the plate to end the inning.

Legends starter Tanner Bushue gave way to Cruz to open the fourth, and the left-hander quickly found a groove.

Lexington got on the board in the fourth.

Scott led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout.

Tyler Burnett singled, and center fielder Walker bobbled the ball for an error that allowed Scott to score.

The Legends cut the deficit to 6-3 by scoring twice in the fifth.

DeShields knocked a one-out double off the center-field wall. He stole third and continued home when catcher Medina zipped the ball into left field.

Alex Todd was hit by a pitch, ending the night for Intimidators starter and Paducah native Daniel Webb.

Jefferson Olacio took over and walked Scott, then fired two wild pitches to move Todd around the bases. However, the Legends left the bases loaded.

An inning later, the Legends ran themselves out of a rally.

A double and passed ball put Matt Duffy on third with no outs. He was thrown out at the plate on Drew Muren's grounder to first. Moments later, Muren was caught stealing.

Kannapolis added an unearned run in the eighth and two more in the ninth against Jason Chowning.

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