Carlos Hernandez did more than enough in his first postseason appearance to bring Lexington within one win of another South Atlantic League title.
The Royals’ No. 13 prospect threw five two-hit innings as the Legends blanked Hickory, 7-0, to take a commanding two games to none lead in the best-of-5 Championship Series on Tuesday at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Hernandez (1-0) walked Jax Biggers in the first and Pedro Gonzalez in the second but didn’t give up a hit until Kole Enright led off the third with a single. In the fourth, the right-hander hit a batter and walked another as the Crawdads put runners at second and third with one out. But he struck out Frainyer Chavez and Miguel Aparicio to preserve a 1-0 lead.
The 22-year-old Venezuelan gave up another leadoff single in the fifth to Matt Whatley, then set down the next three batters.
Hernandez had not since Sept. 2 in the Legends’ regular-season finale against Hickory when he allowed two runs on six hits over six frames. Facing the same lineup in Game 2 of the Finals, he fanned six, walked three and threw 54 of 89 pitches for strikes.
Tyler Gray struck out the side in the sixth and Emilio Marquez gave up one hit over the final three innings for the save.
The Legends opened the scoring in the second on an RBI single by Jeison Guzman, who homered and doubled in a run in a 6-4 win in Game 1 on Monday. Eric Cole went 3-for-5 with a run-scoring single in the fourth and a three-run homer in the ninth. After Cole’s knock, Chris Hudgins hit a two-run blast to give Lexington a 4-0 lead.
Game 3 is Thursday in Lexington.
Shlomo Sprung is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @sprungonsportsThis story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.