LAKEWOOD – The Lakewood BlueClaws clinched their second straight first half title Sunday afternoon, beating Kannapolis 6-3.
Lakewood entered the day one game up on second-place Hickory, and needed a win or a Crawdads loss to lock up the division.
The BlueClaws trailed Hickory by 4.5 games back on May 30th, but went on a 16-5 run to end the first half.
Jonathan Singleton was a big part of Lakewood’s hot streak, and Sunday was no exception. The 18-year old first basemen’s eighth home run of the season, a three-run blast to right in the 1st inning gave the Claws an early 4-1 lead. His ninth homer and second of the day came in the 5th and made it a 6-2 game.
“I think today we wanted it more because this was our chance to take it,” said Singleton. “Everyone at the plate was just going for it.”
Claws starter Brody Colvin (4-6) was solid scattering five hits through 5 innings, striking out five. Ebelin Lugo continued his outstanding season chipping in 3 innings of one-hit ball out of the pen, and Jordan Ellis picked up his sixth save.
The BlueClaws wasted no time coming back from an early deficit in the bottom half of the 1st inning. Jiwan James drew a leadoff walk, Jonathan Villar singled, and Leandro Castro added an RBI base hit to tie the game. Singleton then delivered his first homer to top off a four run inning.
“Scoring early is always good for us,” said Singleton. “It gives our pitchers confidence in our offense, and they pitch with a little [more] confidence.”
Kannapolis cut the lead in half with a run in the fourth, but Singleton’s two-run blast made it 6-2 in the 5th. The Intimidators scored one more time in the 6th but that was as close as they would get.
This will be Lakewood’s third playoff appearance in team history. The last two times they made it, in 2006 and 2009, they won the league championship. It is the first time the BlueClaws have made the playoffs in back-to-back years.
Last season Lakewood won the first half title, and became the first team since 2002 to go on to win it all after clinching in the first half.
The BlueClaws first home playoff appearance will be Game 2 of the Northern Division Championship Series at FirstEnergy Park on Friday September 10th. Ticket information will be available soon.
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