Rave turns up late-inning heat for Legends

Royals No. 22 prospect caps Sally Finals Game 1 rally in ninth

Illinois State product John Rave was a fifth-round pick by the Royals in this year's First-Year Player Draft. (Clinton Riddle)

By Duane Cross / MiLB.com | September 9, 2019 11:53 PM

Kids dream about ninth-inning postseason heroics. Few, however, get to experience it -- especially only three months after being drafted.

But John Rave, a fifth-round pick by Kansas City this year, was able to keep the Class A Legends' undefeated postseason rolling with some Monday night.

Kansas City's No. 22 prospect delivered a two-run single to cap a ninth-inning rally as Lexington downed Hickory, 6-4, at L.P. Frans Stadium in Game 1 of the best-of-5 South Atlantic League Championship Series.

Gameday box score

With one out in a tie game, Nick Hutchins roped an RBI double into left field off right-hander Kelvin Gonzalez to set up Rave's base knock.

"I felt like I'd put together a couple good at-bats, but had nothing to show for it," said Rave, who was 0-for-3 entering the ninth. "Nick smoked a ball to left field, and I was just looking to put the ball in play. I wanted to get those insurance runs. Fortunately, I was able to sneak one up the middle. It was a cool feeling."

Lexington -- 3-0 in the postseason -- got on the board first. Jeison Guzman stroked a two-run homer over the wall in right-center field off Rangers No. 19 prospect Ronny Henriquez in the third inning. The 19-year-old righty yielded two runs on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over six innings. He tossed 74 pitches, 51 for strikes.

Hickory answered with a three-spot in the fifth, highlighted by a run-scoring double by Kole Enright off Legends starter Jon Heasley. The right-hander allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and a pair of walks while whiffing three across five frames.

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The Legends knotted the game, 3-3, in the eighth against righty Nick Snyder with back-to-back two-out doubles by Rubendy Jaquez and Guzman.

"It was a great baseball game," Rave added. "The whole game, back and forth ... we knew it was going to be a tough series.

"Taking Game 1 is a big step. We have confidence in the guys on the mound; we have some studs on the mound. I have faith in our pitching to hold them down and then for our offense to have a chance."

The Crawdads added a run in the ninth when Miguel Aparicio raced home on a fielding error by second baseman Jaquez on a grounder by Jax Biggers.

Kyle Hinton picked up the win. The right-hander gave up a walk and struck out a pair in two innings. Brandon Marklund earned the save after allowing the unearned run on a walk in the final frame.

2019 MiLB include

The Illinois State product "had no idea what to expect" when the Royals called his name in June, but he has embraced the adjustments to a long year of playing baseball.

"I couldn't ask for a better organization than the Royals," the 21-year-old outfielder said. "To be able to play with Lexington, they've made it a super-easy transition. You dream of nights like this as a kid. I'm having a lot of fun."

The teams stay in Hickory for Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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