After losing the middle three games of their five game series to the Kannapolis Intimidators, the Lakewood BlueClaws were finally able to get into the win column with a 7-2 matinee win. The loss dropped Kannapolis to 3.5 games behind the Greensboro Grasshoppers, pending their game later tonight.
The two teams were tied entering the fifth inning. Lakewood had scored in the bottom of the third when Carlos Tocci doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Cozens. The lead was short-lived as Zach Voight led off the top of the fourth for the Intimidators with a double of his own. He would score one out later on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Morris and the score would be tied.
In the bottom of the fifth Lakewood would jump on top again. Tocci would get the rally going again with a one out single, and would advance on a throwing error by 3B Trey Michalczewski. Andrew Pullin would single advancing Tocci to third, and the BlueClaws were in business with runners on the corners and just one out. Following a strike out by Andrew Knapp, Cozens would take Intimidators pitcher Thad Lowry deep over the right field wall for a 4-1 lead. It was Cozens 14th home run of the year.
In the top of the sixth Delvi Francisco relieve2 starter Yoel Mecias (2-0) for Lakewood, and would find himself in trouble right away. Michalczewski walked to lead off the inning and later advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a passed ball by C Jose Mayorga. Jacob Morris then walked, and Brett Austin followed that with a single to right field scoring the Kannapolis third baseman. Francisco would avoid a huge inning, however, by inducing Carl Thomore to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Any momentum Kannapolis had garnered was quickly eliminated in the bottom of the sixth. Mitch Walding singled to lead off the inning, but was caught trying to steal following a strike out by Larry Greene. With two outs, Mayorga would draw a walk as would the next two batters, Emmanuel Serra and Tocci. Andrew Miller, who had relieved Lowry in the fifth, had lost the strike zone, and with Pullin at the plate he would throw a wild pitch that would advance all three runners, including Mayorga who scored on the play. Pullin then singled up the middle scoring Serra and Tocci, and the BlueClaws had a 7-2 lead.
After the rough sixth inning, Francisco settled down and was near perfect over the last three innings, yielding just one hit, while striking out three. The four inning outing earned him his second save of the year, and Mecias earned his second win versus zero losses. Mecias has been dominate since returning from Tommy John surgery, making three starts, with 15 innings pitched, nine hits, two earned runs and 11 strikeouts. Thad Lowry (4-5) took the loss, giving up seven hits and four runs in 4.2 innings of work.
Despite the loss Kannapolis can be happy about taking three of five in the series. The Intimidators swept a double-header on Sunday, taking the first 7-3, before completing the sweep with a 6-3 victory. On Monday night Kannapolis would give up three runs in the first inning, and then battle back to score five runs in the fourth through the sixth innings for the 5-3 win. Lakewood took the first game of the series 4-3. Entering the ninth inning of the game the BlueClaws were leading 3-1, but gave up two runs to tie the game. However, Zach Green would bail them out with a one out walk-off single that plated Andrew Knapp and gave Lakewood the 4-3 win. The two teams are done playing each other this season.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America