PRINCETON, WV- The Princeton Rays dropped the first game of the divisional playoff series 20-5 to the Burlington Royals on Saturday at H.P. Hunnicutt Field.
Despite being outpowered by Burlington's nineteen hits, the Princeton offense recorded twelve hits in the game.
The Rays took a brief 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first after notching two on a RBI-double by left fielder Jesus Sanchez and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Bobby Melley.
The Royals quickly regained the lead with four runs in the third inning and continued to extend their lead throughout the remainder of the game.
The final three Princeton runs came later as the Rays notched one in the third, sixth and seventh frames on an RBI-groundout by second baseman Robbie Tenerowicz, a solo home run by shortstop Adrian Rondon, and a RBI-double by Melley, respectively.
Sanchez finished the night with five hits, including two doubles and an RBI, while right fielder Eleardo Cabrera recorded three.
The Rays pitching staff struggled against the relentless Burlington lineup. Starter Willy Ortiz was credited with just his first loss of the season after pitching two and one-third innings, giving up five runs on four hits and striking out two.
Relievers Kenny Rosenberg, Austin Sweet, and Bryce Zak each gave up four, five, and six runs, respectively, as the Royals opened up the game and took the 20-5 lead through eight innings.
The Rays brought on Blake Grant-Parks, listed as a catcher on the Rays roster, to record the final two outs in the top of the ninth and escape a two-baserunner jam.
Princeton will now travel to Burlington, NC for game two of the divisional series on Sun., Sept. 4 beginning at 6 p.m.
The Princeton Rays have been the proud Appalachian League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since 1997. Any questions may be forwarded to the Rays' front office at 304-487-2000 or [email protected].