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Kannapolis Intimidators drops first game of playoffs to Lakewood, 4-2

Tied 2-2 going into the ninth inning, the Lakewood BlueClaws scored two runs on two hits and one wild pitch to take the first game of the 2018 SAL Northern Division Championship Series (Best 2-of-3), 4-2, Wednesday night at Intimidators Stadium.

The Intimidators got the scoring going in the first inning off Lakewood’s Andrew Brown, as Luis Curbelo reached first after being hit by a pitch. Next up, Steele Walker rifled a ball through the right side, putting runners at the corners for Tate Blackman. On the third pitch of his at-bat, Blackman dribbled a ball off his bat down the third base line, as Curbelo got a good read off the bat, sprinting in to score the game’s first run. After a flyout off the bat of Craig Dedelow, Carlos Perez singled in Walker with hot-shot up the middle, pushing the Intimidators lead to two runs, 2-0.

After clean innings in the second and third for Zach Lewis and Brown, Rodolfo Duran got the BlueClaws on the board with a solo homer, smacking it off the scoreboard for his 19th of the season. Later in the inning, Nick Maton tripled in Jhailyn Ortiz, who reached on a double, to even up the score, 2-2, after four innings.

In the fifth and sixth innings, Lewis picked up three strikeouts, leading to an eight-strikeout performance, tying his season-high in strikeouts. Lewis finished his six innings on the bump with 96 pitches, spraying four hits and one walk.

With Andrew Brown leaving the ball game after six innings, giving up five hits and two runs, the Intimidators threatened to score in the eighth inning, loading the bases with two outs. With bases chucked full of I’s, Perez whacked a ball through the left side, as manager Justin Jirschele waved in Blackman from third base. With a strong throw from right fielder Matt Vierling for the BlueClaws, Blackman got tagged out by 10-15 feet at the plate, proving to be the last chance for Kannapolis to score.

In the top of the ninth, Madison Stokes led off the inning with a soft-hit double down the first base line, as Colby Fitch and Jose Antequeara connected on two hits to bring in the two go-ahead runs for Lakewood, up 4-2.

Kannapolis will look to bounce back Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at FirstEnergy Park at Lakewood, as LHP Parker Rigler will get the ball for Kannapolis.