Princeton — The Princeton Rays hosted the Danville Braves over the last three days in what could prove to be the most critical series of the season. Princeton, Pulaski, and Danville are in a three team race for two playoff spots in the Appalachian East Division. Entering the series the three team were separated by a half game with Princeton leading the division.

On Sunday afternoon it was a double header. The first game was the completion of a game that was delayed for rain on July 8th and would be completed as a nine inning game. The second game would follow later that evening and would be a seven inning contest.

Back on July 8 the contest was suspended for rain after three innings with Danville leading 1-0 after they scored a run in the top of the third inning. When the contest resumed on Sunday the Rays wasted no time getting on the scoreboard.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Patrick Grady led off with a walk. Angel Moreno then hit a two-run home run over the left field wall to put the Rays up 2-1.

The Rays pitching was able to hold the Braves scoreless the rest of the way and Princeton was able to pick up the 2-1 victory. The win allowed the Rays to hold on to their lead in the division and temporarily extend their advantage.

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The second game got underway Sunday afternoon and Danville wasted no time finding the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Ozhaino Albies led off the inning with a walk but then would be thrown out at second as Omar Obregon grounded into a force out. Obregon then was able to advance to second on a wild pitch by Princeton's Trevor Lubking. Jordan Edgerton hit a double into left field which allowed Obregon to score to give the Braves the 1-0 lead.

Danville would add to their lead in the top of the sixth inning. Tanner Murphy leads off the inning with a double and then advanced to third off of a single by Wigberto Nevarez. Braxton Davidson singled to score Murphy and advance Nevarez to second. With two outs, Ozhaino Albies singles to load the bases. Nevarez would then score as Omar Obregon drew a walk to give the Braves the 3-0 lead.

Princeton would try to rally back in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jose Paez led off the inning with a walk and then advances to second as Taylor Hawkins also drew a walk. A wild pitch allowed both runners to each advance one base. Riley Unroe then grounded out but allowed Paez to score from third to cut the lead down to 3-1

But the Rays were unable to find the scoreboard in the seventh inning and the Braves took the 3-1 victory. With the victory Danville would pull back to within a half a game in the standings of Princeton.

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The third game of the series took place on Monday night. It was Danville again who jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second inning. Jose Morel doubled into left field with two outs in the inning. Trevor Sprowl then singled into right field allowing Morel to score from second base to put the Braves up 1-0.

Princeton this time would have an answer in the bottom of the fourth inning. Thomas Milone led off the inning with a single into right field and then was able to steal second base. Hector Montes singled into left field allowing Milone to score from second. Nick Ciuffo doubled into left field allowing Montes to advance to third. Carter Burgess then doubled into right field scoring both Montes and Ciuffo to give the Rays the 3-1 lead.

The Rays would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out in the inning Cristian Toribio hit a triple. While Manny Sanchez is batting, a wild pitch by Danville's Tyler Vail allowed Toribio to score to put the Rays up 4-1.

Danville would be unable to score the rest of the way as the Rays pick up the 4-1 victory. With the win Princeton pulls back out in the standings by a game and a half over Danville with the series finale taking place on Tuesday night.

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In the series finale it was Danville who once again jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. Joseph Daris led off the inning with a single and then advances to second as Ozhaino Albies reaches on a sacrifice bunt. Daris and Albies both advanced base on a sacrifice bunt by Omar Obregon. Daris then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Morel to give the Braves the 1-0 lead.

The Rays would answer back in the bottom of the second inning. Hector Montes led off the inning with a double into right field and then scored off of a double by Nick Ciuffo. Angel Moreno then doubled into left field allowing Ciuffo to score from second to give the Rays the 2-1 lead.

Danville would take the lead back in the top of the fourth inning. Omar Obregon led off the inning with a walk and then advanced to third on a Jose Morel single. A wild pitch allowed Obregon to score and Morel to advance to second. Tanner Murphy reached base on a throwing error. Trevor Sprowl hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Morel to third and Murphy to second. Mike Dodig then doubled into right field scoring both Morel and Murphy to give the Braves the 4-2 lead.

Princeton would find the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cristian Toribio singled with one out in the inning but was thrown out at second as Jose Paez hit into a force out. A wild pitch allowed Paez to advance to second and then Paez stole third. Manny Sanchez would then triple into center field scoring Paez. Riley Unroe singled into center field to pull the Rays to within one run at 4-3.

But Danville would pull away from that point. They added a run in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to go up 7-4 over the Rays. The run scored in the sixth inning was a solo home run hit by Tanner Murphy.

The Rays would score one more time in the bottom of the seventh inning as Carter Burgess hit a solo home run over the left field wall but the Rays would not score again. Danville would go on to take the 7-5 victory.

The Rays and the Braves split the four games that were decided in this series. Therefore the standings are exactly the same as they were entering the series. Princeton leads the East Division with a record of 36-28, Pulaski and Danville both trail the Rays by a half game. The Rays have one series left in the regular season which they will play over the next three days when they travel to Burlington.

— Contact Jordan Ellison at ellisonj27@gmail.com

• Game One:

Danville (34-27)………..0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 9 1

Princeton (35-26)………0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 X - 2 3 1

W: Maisto (3-3, 4.50)

L: Flores, M (2-1, 2.93)

SV: Ascher (2)

HR: PRN: Moreno, A (3)

• Game 2:

Danville (35-28)……….1 0 0 0 0 2 0 - 3 8 0

Princeton (35-27)……...0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 3 1

W: Waszak (3-7, 4.70)

L: Lubking (1-4, 3.66)

SV: Kinman (3)

HR: NONE

• Game Three:

Danville (35-29)………0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 10 0

Princeton (36-27)……..0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 X - 4 9 3

W: Varga (1-1, 4.74)

L: Grosser (4-3, 3.68)

SV: Paredes, R (6)

HR: None

• Game Four:

Danville (36-29)………..1 0 0 3 1 1 1 0 0 - 7 7 1

Princeton (36-28)………0 2 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 - 5 11 3

W: Povse (4-2, 3.42)

L: Ramirez (6-2, 1.86)

SV: Kinman (4)

HR: DAN: Murphy (5) PRN: Burgess (2)

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