Lexington Legends' third baseman Emmanuel Rivera had two hits in four at bats to claim the South Atlantic League batting title, but the Hagerstown Suns built an early lead and went on to an 11-6 win over the Legends Monday in the final game of the 2017 season.
A seventh-inning double gave Rivera a .310 average for the season, one point better than Greensboro's James Nelson, who finished at .309 after going two-for-four in a 2-1 win over Hickory earlier in the day.
Rivera needed the second hit. Had he gone 1-for-4, Nelson would have won the title, .3088 to .3081. Nelson had 122 hits in 395 at bats. Rivera, who also led the league in hits, had 144 hits in 464 at bats.
Rivera becomes the second Legend in the team's 17-year history to claim the batting title. J.D. Martinez, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, won with a .362 average in 2010.
The Suns opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the third. Paul Panaccione led off with a double, moved to third on a one-out single by Angelo La Bruna and scored on a sacrifice fly by Blake Perkins. A wild pitch allowed La Bruna to advance to second, from where he scored on a single by Aldrem Corredor.
Adderling Ruiz drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, giving the Suns a 3-0 lead.
The Legends got on the board in the fifth. Michael Gigliotti bunted for a single with one out and continued to third base on a throwing error by pitcher Ben Braymer. Gigliotti scored on a passed ball.
Hagerstown countered with a run in the fifth, and a two-run single by La Bruna in the sixth made the score 6-1.
Gigliotti led off the seventh with a single, and after Vance Vizcaino flied out, Khalil Lee was hit by a pitch. Rivera doubled to center field, scoring Gigliotti, sending Lee to third and clinching the batting title for Rivera, who was removed from the game at the end of the inning. Lee scored on a wild pitch, and the Legends trailed 6-3.
Hagerstown scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, two coming on a double by Ruiz.
The Legends matched that with three in the top of the eighth. Max Bartlett led off with a double, and Marten Gasparini was hit by a pitch. After Gigliotti struck out, Vance Vizcaino singled, scoring Bartlett. Lee walked to load the bases. Joe Dudek struck out, but Gabriel Cancel walked to force in a run, and Manny Olloque's single brought home another, leaving the score at 9-6.
Panaccione's two-run single in the bottom of the eighth closed out the scoring.
Braymer (3-2), the Hagerstown starter, got the win. Lexington starter Gerson Garabito (4-5) was the losing pitcher.
The Legends finished the season with an overall record of 62-75, 28-40 in the second half.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.