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TWitM: EVERYONE is champions

This Week in the Minors: Wilmington, Lexington, and Idaho Falls all won their league championships.

Lexington is one of FOUR total Royals affiliates to take home league titles
Clinton Riddle

‘This Week in the Minors’ is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. The mission is to answer this simple question: “Who had a good week?”

Today, we’ll cover results from Monday, September 9 through Sunday, September 15.

When last we checked in, Burlington had reached the Appalachian League championship series, but lost. However, three more Royals affiliates were still in the hunt for league championships after the Dominican Royals1 set the stage by winning the first one. Improbably, all of them won. Let’s take a look at how it happened.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks

Wilmington needed all five games against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Astros), but you already know from the headline that they came away victorious, claiming their first Carolina League title in 20 years.

The Woodpeckers took game one at Wilmington, 3-1. Daniel Lynch gave up two of those runs in five innings. He struck out seven, but walked four and allowed four hits, including a double and a homer.

In game two, left fielder (and Wilmington native!) Tyler Hill led the way for the Blue Rocks with three hits, including a first-inning homer. Wilmington won 5-4 and the series hit the road.

This will not come as a surprise to any regulars around here, but left-hander Kris Bubic struck out eight batters in his game three start. However, he gave up two runs and got the loss as Wilmington lost 2-1.

Left-hander Austin Cox shut down Fayetteville with six shutout innings to start game four. Andrew Beckwith, Josh Dye, and Tad Ratliff followed suit, and all told allowed zero runs on three hits. Catcher MJ Melendez homered in the 2nd, and the Rocks scrapped across one more run in the 9th for a 2-0 win to force game five.

Rito Lugo kept the shutout energy going with strikeouts in six scoreless innings, with six hits allowed. Collin Snyder followed with 1 23 shutout innings of his own, and Dye and Ratliff added more of the same.

Third baseman Dennicher Carrasco homered in the fourth inning. First baseman doubled in another run in the 9th, and that would be enough for a game five win and a championship.

Low-A Lexington Legends

The Hickory Crawdads (Rangers) hosted the first two games, but dropped them 6-4 and 7-0. Shorstop Jeison Guzman drove in three runs in game one with a two-run homer and an RBI double. Catcher Nick Hutchins drove in a run and center fielder John Rave drove in two in a decisive 9th inning that sealed the win.

Pitchers Carlos Hernandez, Tyler Gray, and Emilio Marquez combined for a 3-hit shutout in game two. Right fielder Eric Cole went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI. Catcher Chris Hudgins also homered.

The series then came home to Lexington for game three, which Hickory won 5-1.

And then there was game four. Zach Haake pitched six shutout frames with six strikeouts, and Lexington took a 1-0 lead into the 7th. Daniel James gave up a solo homer in the 7th, and that 1-1 score would hold for six more innings. Brandon Marklund shut the Crawdads out for four innings, and Tyler Gray struck out four in his two shutout innings.

AND THEN!!! First baseman Reed Rohlmann hit a two-run home run in the THIRTEENTH INNING (!) to walk off as a gosh dang champion.

Rookie Idaho Falls Chukars

On Monday, the Billings Mustangs (Reds) came up with a win to tie the divisional series 1-1. Game three started on Tuesday but was interrupted by rain. The teams attempted to resume the game on Wednesday evening, but had to push back and back, and they finally finished the game Thursday afternoon.

It was against that backdrop that the Chukars came up with a game three win that sent them on to the championship series. Shortstop Clay Dungan came up with a clutch three run homer - just his third longball of the season - that broke a 3-3 tie and ultimately delivered the win.

Ogden (Dodgers) took game one of the championship series, despite allowing three unearned runs on two walks and two errors in one inning.

The heart of the order delivered in game two, with batters 4-7 driving in all six of the Chukars’ runs. Right fielder Juan Carlos Negret hit a two-run homer. LHP Anthony Veneziano and RHP Jonah Dipoto combined for five shutout innings after Lee’s Summit native Nathan Webb gave up two runs but struck out a solid seven in four innings to start the game.

In game three, the Chukars were sitting pretty on a 7-0 lead after four and a half innings. Ogden crashed that party with a three-run bomb in the fifth, and two more runs before the frame ended. Idaho Falls answered with two more in the sixth, but Ogden came right back with three, leaving the score at 9-8 with Idaho Falls ahead.

Left fielder Isaiah Henry delivered an insurance run via a solo homer in the 7th, giving IDF a 10-8 lead they would hold for the win. Jonah Dipoto allowed just one double in his two-inning effort and earned the save.

Shortstop Tyler Tolbert had a three-hit game, including two doubles. Henry, Stephan Vidal (catcher), and Rhett Aplin (first baseman) each had two hits.