Jaquez helps Legends complete sweep

Royals prospect homers, scores twice in Sally semifinal clincher

Lexington has a chance to become the first South Atlantic League repeat champion in nine years. (Lexington Legends)

By Dan Stokes / MiLB.com | September 7, 2019 12:29 AM

A night removed from scoring one of two runs in Class A Lexington's Game 1 semifinal victory, Rubendy Jaquez played hero again on Friday.

The Royals infield prospect went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two runs scored as the Legends beat Augusta, 4-2, to complete a sweep of the best-of-3 South Atlantic League semifinals and advance to the Championship Series for the second year in a row.

Video: Legends return to SAL Finals

In the fourth inning, Jaquez sent the first pitch from right-hander Kai-Wei Teng (0-1) over the right-center field fence to give the Legends a 1-0 advantage.

"He's been a pretty good spark plug for us all year," Legends manager Brooks Conrad said. "That home run he hit was awesome. It got us going with a run on the board and we got a few more that inning."

Teng gave up a single to Jeison Guzman and walked Eric Cole before uncorking a pair of wild pitches that produced another run. Nathan Eaton laced a two-out RBI single to right on a 1-1 offering to make it 3-0.

Gameday box score

The GreenJackets scratched across two runs in the fifth off starter Zach Haake. Jacob Gonzalez and No. 20 Giants prospect Franklin Labour singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Simon Whiteman.

But Jaquez provided an insurance run in the eighth. After ripping a first-pitch single to right against Sandro Cabrera, the 20-year-old advanced on a four-pitch walk by Guzman. He took third when Guzman was caught stealing, then raced home on a wild pitch.

"His awareness on the basepaths has really honed in over the course of the season," Conrad said. "He's always looking for a ball in the dirt and him on the bases is a threat. Having 30 stolen this year, he does a really good job of going first-to-third on balls. He's ready. ... He's always ready."

Complete playoff coverage 

Daniel James (1-0) retired all eight batters he faced, fanning two, for the win. Brandon Marklund worked around a hit and a walk over the final two frames for his second postseason save. He struck out four, including Labour to end the game and set off the celebration.

"James comes in and does an outstanding job," Conrad said. "Marklund comes in and shuts the door again. Those two guys did an outstanding job. Marklund came in last game and got it done. He was big for us. Obviously, we didn't have to use our bullpen much this series because we got a couple good starts from our starters."

Lexington won the championship last year, beating Lakewood in four games. The Legends will face Hickory in the best-of-5 Championship Series, starting Monday.

"It's really good and really exciting," Conrad said. "It probably doesn't happen too often, when the same team returns to the series with completely different players. It's a testament to the character of guys, who might not have had the best statistical season but they never give up and they don't stop fighting until the game is over." 

In other South Atlantic League action:

Hickory 1, Delmarva 0, 10 innings

Taking the mound a win away from the Finals, Abdiel Mendoza didn't allow a hit through 6 1/3 innings. Top Orioles prospect Adley Rutschman broke up the no-no bid and chased Mendoza with a single in the seventh, the first of two knocks for MLB.com's No. 6 overall prospect. Hever Bueno (1-0) took over and tossed 2 2/3 hitless innings with three whiffs, and Kelvin Gonzalez worked a scoreless 10th for his second save. Kole Enright scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded sacrifice bunt in the 10th. Shorebirds starter Gray Fenter amassed a career-high 13 strikeouts, scattering four hits over 6 1/3 scoreless frames. Gameday box score

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

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