Lakewood Takes Game One of Finals

In a contest which had both emotional highs and lows it was the Lakewood BlueClaws who came up with clutch hitting and clutch situational pitching from their bullpen and they squeaked past the Greenville Drive 6-3 in game one of the South Atlantic League Championship Series. The BlueClaws jump out to a 1-0 series lead.

The BlueClaws got on the board with their first swing of the bat as Anthony Gose sent a tape-measure shot over the wall in right-centerfield to give Lakewood a very quick 1-0 lead.

Things changed in the second and third innings though as the Greenville Drive benefited from Matthew Way struggling with his control and Greenville took the lead at 2-1 after the top of the third. Way only lasted one out into the fourth and walked a season-high four, allowing two runs.

Down by a run in the third, the BlueClaws had D'Arby Myers on first with two outs. Myers stole second base and Harold Garcia delivered an RBI double and Travis d'Arnaud followed with an RBI single as Lakewood took a 3-2 lead.

The BlueClaws added a run in the sixth inning with a leadoff double by d'Arnaud and another big two-out hit, this time by Brian Gump, to take a 4-2 lead.

The Drive had their fair share of chances in this ballgame as they put two on with one out in both the fifth and sixth and didn't score. They also had the bases loaded in the third with one out and scored just one run on a sacrifice fly. Greenville missed a golden opportunity in the seventh against major leaguer Clay Condrey.

Condrey, on rehab assignment from the Philadelphia Phillies, allowed a single and a walk to lead off the inning and then an RBI-double to force in a run, making the score 4-3 and Greenville still had runners on second and third with nobody out. Condrey then worked a groundball out and then induced a slow roller to first. First baseman Jim Murphy fielded the ball and attempted to tag the runner, who was originally called safe before the call was changed. Condrey then struck out Shannon Wilkerson, escaping with the lead.

After Austin Hyatt worked a clean eighth, the BlueClaws got two insurance runs with a solo home run from Garcia and an RBI-double from Jim Murphy after d'Arnaud walked.

Santo Hernandez came on to pitch the ninth inning and allowed a leadoff single before recording two strikeouts and a pop out as Greenville went down without doing any further damage.

The BlueClaws used six pitchers for the first time all season and Luke Wertz was credited with the win after throwing a scoreless inning. Jacob Diekman also pitched and recorded two outs in a big spot in the sixth.

The losing pitcher was starter Brock Huntzinger as he allowed four runs in six innings. Mitchell Herold, who had been dominant in the regular season, pitched an inning and allowed two hits and two important insurance runs.

The Drive out-hit the BlueClaws 10-9 and also benefited from six walks. They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Garcia led the BlueClaws with a 2-for-4 night featuring a home run and an RBI-double.

The BlueClaws have won one championship in their team history in 2006, they're looking for their second.

The SAL Championship series, a best-of-five series, will continue on Tuesday, September 15th at 7:05 pm at FirstEnergy Park, the final game held in Lakewood this season. The series shifts to Greenville, SC for the final three games. The BlueClaws will send Jesus Sanchez (10-6), the team leader in wins and strikeouts, to the hill for his first action of the postseason. The Drive will counter with Caleb Clay (6-7) who pitched five innings and allowed three runs against the BlueClaws earlier this year.

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