Series Preview: Lexington (Ky.) Legends at Hickory Crawdads May 21-24

Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals) (21-22, third place, South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (28-15, third place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads begin their longest homestand of the season with four games against the defending South Atlantic League champions

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Tuesday: Lexington at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1)

Wednesday: Lexington at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Kids Win Wednesday (All kids 12 and under receive a free ticket, free meal voucher, and free bounce house, speed pitch and carousel voucher every Wednesday night game); Wine Wednesday.

Thursday: Lexington at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Thirsty Thursday; Thanksgiving in May.

Friday: Lexington at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Postgame Fireworks; British Invasion Night.

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

Hickory and Lexington played just three games last season and the Crawdads swept them in a series at L.P. Frans in April. Since 2013 and the start of the Legends current affiliation with the Royals, Hickory holds a 24-19 advantage with a 15-13 mark at L.P. Frans.

 

PROBABLES (Lexington/ Hickory)

Tuesday: RHP Jonathan Bowlan vs. RHP Ronny Henriguez

Wednesday: RHP Austin Cox vs. RHP Cole Winn

Thursday:  RHP Charlie Neuweiler vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Friday: RHP Jon Heasley vs. RHP Tim Brennan

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads continue to win more than they lose but are getting no help in the Northern Division standings. Sitting with the third-best record in the league, they are 6-4 over the last 10 but have fallen to 5.5 games behind first-place Delmarva (Md.) and now are a game behind Greensboro for second.

Hickory returns home after a 4-3 road trip, which was capped by a win at Hagerstown (Md.) Monday to salvage a split of the four-game series. The Crawdads have actually been pretty ordinary at home with just an 11-8 record. However, they have lost just one series at L.P. Frans, that coming against Asheville during the previous homestand.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

RHP Cole Winn No. 2

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley (.181/.314/.228) or Melvin Novoa (.287/.333/.444); 1B Curtis Terry (.263/.321/.572); 2B Frainyer Chavez (.252/.336/.270); 3B Sherten Apostel (.217/.290/.355); SS Jonathan Ornelas (.316/.375/.478); LF: Miguel Aparicio (.253/.318/.326); CF: Pedro Gonzalez (.235/.292/.447); RF: Jose Almonte (.183/.222/.310)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Frainyer Chavez – Tied for 10th stolen bases (11)

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 5th homers (7), tied for 9th runs scored

Jonathan Ornelas – 5th batting avg. (.316), 10th OPS (.853)

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (20), 2nd total bases, 3rd RBI (34), 3rd slugging pct. (.572), 4th home runs (9), 5th OPS (.894).

Matt Whatley – 3rd walks, tied for 8th stolen bases (12)

 

Individual pitching:

Grant Anderson – Tied for 5th wins (4), tied for 9th saves (3), tied for 10th games pitched (14)

Scott Engler – Tied for 9th saves (3)

Yerry Rodriguez – 3rd ERA (1.95), tied for 5th wins (4), 10th strikeouts (51).

 

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.244 (5th)/ .309 (10th)/ .414 (1st)/ .723 (2nd).

Other key rankings: 1st total bases, 2nd runs, 2nd home runs, 2nd stolen bases, 4th triples

Team Pitching:

fewest hit batters, 2nd ERA (3.15), 3rd WHIP (1.16), 3rd fewest runs allowed, 3rd fewest earned runs allowed, 4th fewest earned runs allowed, 4th fewest hits allowed

WHO’S HOT

Hitting (Last 10 games): Miguel Aparicio (.333/.389/.400, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 2 steals); Sherten Apostel (.314/.366/.571, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 7 RBI); Melvin Novoa (.278/.333/.444. 3 doubles 1 HR)

Pitching (May): Scott Engler (6 games, 1.84 ERA, .157 OBA, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 23 K); Yerry Rodriguez (3 starts, 2.25 ERA, .161 OBA, 16 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 8 BB, 27 K).

 

ABOUT LEXINGTON:

The Legends are the defending South Atlantic League champions, taking their first title since 2001, which was an abbreviated series after the attacks on 9/11. Lexington returns to the road after splitting a four-game series at home with Asheville. The Legends will be road warriors for much of the remainder of the first half. Entering this series, they have played the fewest road games of any SAL with a 9-7 record. Heading into the all-star break, 19 of the next 26 for the Legends will be away from home.

Manager: Brooks Conrad (1st season)

Prospects – Lexington (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Mike Gigliotti No. 13

LHP Austin Cox No. 22

SS Jeison Guzman No. 24

RHP Jonathan Bowlan No. 29

Possible Lineups: C: Freddie Fermin (.286/.318/.419); 1B: Reed Rohlman (.240/.282/.338); 2B: Rubendy Jaquez (.223/.287/.338); 3B: Nathan Eaton (.252/.353/.392); SS: Jeison Guzman (.204/.259/.336); LF: Jackson Lueck (.133/.211/.194); CF: Michael Gigliotti (.248/.346/.328); RF: Juan Carlos Negret (.169/.282/.338)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Eric Cole – Tied for 6th triples (3)

Mike Gigliotti -1st stolen bases (17)

Jeison Guzman – Tied for 3rd caught stealing (5)

Nick Hutchins – Tied for 7th doubles (12)

Rubendy Jaquez – Tied for 6th triples (3), tied for 10th stolen bases (11)

Juan Carlos Negret – Tied for 10th strikeouts

Chase Vallot – 7th strikeouts, 10th slugging pct. (.486)

Individual pitching:

Jonathan Bowlan – 7th WHIP (0.94)

Jon Heasley – 2nd WHIP (0.82), 5th ERA (2.04), tied for 5th wins (4)

Kyle Hinton – Tied for 9th saves (3)

Charlie Neuweiler – 4th walks allowed, 9th innings pitched, tied for 9th hit batters (5), tied for 10th home runs allowed (5)

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .224 (12th) / .293 (12th)/ .353 (11th)/ .645 (11th).

Other key rankings: 1st stolen bases, 4th strikeouts, tied for 11th walks, 12th runs scored

Team pitching:

1st WHIP (1.08), fewest walks allowed, 4th strikeouts, 5th ERA (3.31),

WHO’S HOT

Hitting (Last 10 games): Jeison Guzman (.303/.343/.576, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB); Chase Vallot (.200/.407/.500, 2 HR); Freddie Fermin (.364/.382/.485. 2B, HR).

Pitching (May): Austin Lambright (5 games, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K, .120 OBA); Jon Heasley (4 starts, 2.11 ERA, 21.1 IP, 14 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 26 K, .182 OBA)

Steering the Staff: An interview with Hickory pitching coach Jose Jaimes

There are some people that know how to teach. Hickory Crawdads pitching coach Jose Jaimes appears to be one of them.

When one looks at the pitchers he has mentored over the past three seasons, it’s an impressive list. The last two Nolan Ryan Award winners, given to the Texas Rangers minor league pitcher of the year, both came from the Hickory squad – Kyle Cody in 2017 and Tyler Phillips last year. The minor league reliever of the year in 2018 also pitched at Hickory – Demarcus Evans.

A look at the current Texas Rangers top-30 prospects on mlb.com is a gallery of pitchers that have come through Hickory, or are here now: Hans Crouse (No. 1), Cole Winn (2), Joe Palumbo (7), Jonathan Hernandez (8), Tyler Phillips (13), C.D. Pelham (15), A.J. Alexy (20), Evans (24), Cody (28) and Ronny Henriquez (30).

Jeffrey Springs and Erik Swanson were also here with Jaimes in 2016, seasons during which both made the South Atlantic League all-star team. They, along with Pelham, have ascended to the majors.

Many of the names on the list above had their share of struggles. Some, like Phillips and Evans, went through demotions before coming back and figuring out what they were doing. Others, such as Pelham and Hernandez and Alexy, had to bull through tough times at Hickory, but eventually caught on to what they needed to do.

They common factor among them all is a calm-demeanored pitching coach in Jose Jaimes. In talking with him, now for four seasons, here is a coach that is positive about every pitcher under his care and expects them to succeed.

I had a chance to talk with Jaimes a couple of weeks ago about coaching and what adjustments he has made in that field. He also gives insights about those who worked through their struggles and those who were stubborn and had to learn the hard way that adjustments were needed.

Here is that interview.

Jose Jaimes Reid Anderson

Hickory Crawdads pitching coach Jose Jaimes works with Reid Anderson prior to a game with the West Virginia Power at LP Frans Stadium in Hickory NC on 7/12/2018. (TRACY PROFFITT)

This is your fourth year here?

Jaimes: The fourth year, you’re right.

 

Does this feel like home now?

Jaimes: Yeah, it kind of feels like home, actually. When we got back this year in early April, I told my wife that it kind of felt like we never left. It felt like we were gone for two weeks and then we came back. I like it here.

 

Obviously, the Rangers keep sending you back here, but you have a say in this. What brings you back here year after year?

Jaimes: Well, those decisions are more to the Rangers, but when they tell me I have to go back I don’t mind it at all, because I like the city. It’s a safe city and my wife loves it. So, it makes everything a little easier. I have only good stuff to say about Hickory.

 

This is your fourth year here. What do you know now that you had to learn since your first year back in 2016?

Jaimes: Well, 2016 was my first full-season as a coach. So, I kind of had to adjust to the workload of the players. Coming from extended (spring training) and Spokane (Wash.), they didn’t play that many games. In Arizona, they get an off day a week, so it’s a lot easier to manage the workload of the players. Coming here, it’s a little more difficult because you play 18 games in a row and you’ve got to travel. You got to do a bunch of stuff that you don’t do in short season. So, being able to manage that with the players was probably my biggest challenge my first year.

And then, it’s getting to know the league and to know the teams that we face. I feel like every year has been a little easier. But, it’s always a challenge, because you’re always getting new players and a new staff. So, you kind of have to adjust to them also.

 

Does this feel like a good niche for you to get these young guys in their first full season? Is that something you see yourself doing longer term?

Jaimes: Yeah. I like it here and I like working with the young players, definitely. I think it’s a really important year for these guys and I feel like I can help to get on track on what to expect in a full season and all that. I feel like it’s a good fit for me.

 

How difficult is it to take a group of 13 -14 guys, especially this year where so many of them are new to you, to learn their stuff and what they like to do, and then take some of what is not working for them, and fix what they can do better?

Jaimes: Everything starts for me in spring training. I try to spend as much time as I can with the guys that I know are going to come with me. So, I try to get to know them and what they like to do on the field, and get to know their routines, know what works for them.

That’s how it starts, and then once I get here, probably that first week, I start to put my plan together for them from when I got to know them in Arizona. Then, as the year goes, they start getting to know themselves a little more, so they start to put stuff together that will work for them.

Most of the time it comes from them. Sometimes I’ll give a suggestion, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones making the decision. That isn’t working for me, or other stuff they’re doing in their routines, thing like that.

 

Do you ever get guys that are stubborn and they have to figure that stuff out?

Jaimes: (Laughing) Yeah. That’s part of it. You’ll always get that guy that wants to do their own things. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it go until they can’t handle that. Then, they realize that they need to listen a little more.

 

How difficult is it to stand back when you see something that you know is not going to work, and they’re getting pounded, and you see the teammates’ reactions that something is not working?

Jaimes: I think that comes with experience. I think, maybe, my first couple of years as a coach, I always tried to jump in right away. But then, with experience, you kind of get to learn to be a little more patient and let the game take care of that. Sometimes, you need to let them come to you.

You always want them to tell you what they didn’t do right, or if they need to change. Sometimes, it gets a little overwhelming to them. I think the best thing, sometimes, is to let them come to you and ask for advice.

 

In your four years, you’ve had Kyle Cody, Edgar Arredondo, Joe Palumbo to name a few. Who is the guy that struggled some early, but you saw the light switch on, that gave you the most pleasure to see that?

Jaimes: There’s a couple, but definitely Joe Palumbo was one of them. I had him in 2014 and 2015. We always saw the potential that he had, but early in his career he didn’t challenge himself and he didn’t put in the effort in practice. Once he started changing that mentality and you started seeing the difference. The velo went up. The command got better. He became more of a true pitcher. It was probably one of the more exciting stories I’ve had in my career.

 

The 2017 and 2018 seasons, the first month to six weeks were tough. You and I would talk, and I know those were tough times. Part of that was what the Rangers were wanting to see the guys in commanding the fastball. How difficult was that to go through as a coach? You knew what the outcome was going to be, but still guys are getting beat up and they’re not happy.

Jaimes: That’s what we teach the players, is that we have to stay with the process. It was a plan that we put together for them. Yeah, it was tough to see it, but we always tried to stay positive, because at some point, that plan was going to pay off. And it did.

It was tough but watching the guys those first five or six weeks start to command their fastball better and getting to know that they can pitch with their fastball. It was cool to see. It was tough, but sometimes you have to stay with the process.

 

Who is the most talented pitcher you’ve had?

Jaimes: Oooo, that’s a tough one. We’ve had a few of them. Demarcus Evans.

Demarcus, for me, is one of the most talented pitchers because, obviously the size. He’s a big guy. He has a plus-fastball at 94-95, but when you look deeper at what kind of fastball he has, you look at the spin rate and the type of vertical movement that he has, that’s what makes his fastball so special. That’s why he has so many swing-and-misses on fastballs at the middle of the plate.

Kyle Cody was another one. Big fastball with some sinker action, then with the slider that he has. Those two pitches play very well.

Crouse, obviously. He’s a big talent and throws pitches for strikes. I love the way that he competes. To me, that’s special. He’s not afraid. He likes a good challenge. So, you pull the talent and then you add the type of person and athlete that he is, and the mentality he has, that makes him even better.

 

So, what’s the feeling like when you see guy like C.D. (Pelham) get a call up? Now, you start seeing the guys get the brass ring, what does that mean to you?

Jaimes: When I think about C.D. – you remember those first couple of months in 2017, he struggled. Then, he started putting it together halfway through the year. When I saw him when he got called up last year, it kind of almost made me cry, because I know how hard he worked and I know how much patience he had with the process. Sometimes, he tried stuff and it didn’t work, but he gave his best effort.

When you see guys like that make it to the big leagues, it makes you feel good for them, because you know how hard they work. He’s a special kid and a great guy, a good teammate and he was always good with the coaches.

 

What’s your path to the big leagues, or do you see a path? Do you like this part of the process in the teaching and developing?

Jaimes: Yes, I love teaching. I would like to see myself at some point, in a few years, getting into the big leagues. That’s the ultimate goal, for sure. But, as long as I have a job and doing what I like, I’ll be okay.

 

What made you want to do it in the first place?

Jaimes: My last year, when I played, I was the oldest Latin kid on the team. We had a lot of Latin players, so I kind of took them under my wing. So I started guiding them to what they were going to face when they went to Spokane. So, that’s when I started liking the teaching part. They were listening to what I was saying, so that’s when coaching started to become more intriguing to me. I knew my playing career was probably going to be pretty short, so I thought, ‘you know what, if I get to stay in baseball and I can coach, I’ll be fine.’

Jose Jaimes Melvin Novoa Tim Brennan.JPG

Jose Jaimes (center) with catcher Melvin Novoa and pitcher Tim Brennan (Proffitt)

Series Preview: Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs at Hickory Crawdads May 11-13

Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees) (19-15, first place, South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (22-11, tied for second place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads continue their homestand with a three-games series at L.P. Frans against the Charleston RiverDogs.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Saturday: Charleston at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Murder Mystery Night, Replica Jersey Giveaway (1st 1,000 fans), Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge).

Sunday: Charleston at Hickory, 3:00 p.m. Church Bulletin Sunday (Bring a church bulletin to the ticket office and receive a $6 ticket with $4 from each ticket donated back to the respective church), Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Craw-moms day.

Monday: Charleston at Hickory, 10:30 a.m.

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The Crawdads went 7-4 against the RiverDogs in 2018, but it was the road team that succeeded most of the time. Charleston started off with a 3-1 series win at L.P. Frans early in the season before Hickory returned the favor later in the year. Hickory then swept a three-game series in late July through early August. The Crawdads are 31-24 against the Yankees affiliate at home since 2009, 57-49 overall.

 

PROBABLES (Charleston/ Hickory)

Saturday: RHP Alexander Vizcaino vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Sunday: RHP Luis Medina vs. LHP Tim Brennan

Monday:  RHP Roansy Contreras vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez

 

ABOUT HICKORY

Though the Crawdads have the second best record in the SAL, they are four games behind Delmarva (Md.) in the Northern Division, as the teams reach the halfway mark of the first half-season. However, Hickory is 9-7 at home and that is coming off the first series loss of the year to Asheville, which took two of three.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley (.182/.333/.222) or Melvin Novoa; 1B Curtis Terry (.271/.331/.576); 2B Frainyer Chavez (.265/.351/.289); 3B Sherten Apostel (.184/.263/.282); SS Jonathan Ornelas (.347/.413/.490); LF: Tanner Gardner (.192/.214/.423); CF: Pedro Gonzalez (.237/.315/.485); RF: Jose Almonte (.170/.216/.298)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – tied for 4th homers (7)

Jonathan Ornelas – 4th batting avg. (.347), 6th OBP (.413), 9th hits, 9th OPS (.903).

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (15), tied for 1st RBI (29), tied for 3rd total bases, tied for 4th home runs (7), 7th slugging pct. (.576), 8th OPS (.907)

Matt Whatley – 2nd walks, tied for 6th stolen bases (11)

Individual pitching:

Tim Brennan – 2nd WHIP (0.73)

Hans Crouse – Tied for 9th home runs allowed (4).

Scott Engler – Tied for 9th saves (3)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.242 (4th)/ .310 (8th)/ .417 (1st)/ .727 (3rd).

Other key rankings: 2nd home runs, 2nd total bases, 3rd stolen bases, 4th runs, 1th doubles, 12th walks,

Team Pitching:

1st ERA (2.87), 2nd WHIP (1.11), fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest hit batters, 2nd fewest walks allowed.

WHO’S HOT (Last 10 games)

Hitting: Jonathan Ornelas (.349/.404/.442/.846, 12-game hitting streak); Frainyer Chavez (4 SBs, .394/.444/.324/.869)

Pitching: Tim Brennan (1 start, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 7 K); Scott Engler (3 games, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R 1 BB, 13 K); Yerry Rodriguez (2 starts, 11 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 19 K).

ABOUT CHARLESTON:

The RiverDogs took 2 of 3 at home against Columbia and overall won 11 of the last 14. Charleston is 11-6 on the road.

Manager: Julio Mosquera (2nd season)

Prospects – Charleston (rankings by MLB.com):

RHP Roansy Contreras No. 10

RHP Luis Gil No. 13

RHP Luis Medina No. 14

C Josh Breaux No. 15

RF Josh Stowers No. 25

Possible Lineups: C: Josh Breaux (.307/.344/.557) or Eduardo Navas (.146/.217/.364); 1B: Mickey Gasper (.284/.376/.473); 2B: Kyle Gray (.232/.339/.343); 3B: Wilkerman Garcia (.292/.309/.492); SS: Eduardo Torrealba (.240/.282/.281); LF: Canaan Smith (.307/.388/.466); CF: Brandon Lockridge (.220/.270/.371); RF: Josh Stowers (.308/.396/.429)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Josh Breaux – Tied for 4th RBI (25); tied for 6th HRs (6), 8th Slugging pct. (.557), 10th OPS (.901).

Brandon Lockeridge – Tied for 7th doubles (10)

Josh Stowers – Tied for 3rd doubles (11), tied for 9th steals (8), 10th OBP (.396)

Individual pitching:

Luis Gil – Tied for 5th strikeouts, tied for 8th walks

Luis Medina – 2nd walks, tied for 8th hit batters

Jio Orozco – 7th ERA (1.83), tied for 8th hit batters

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .239 (5th) / .310 (9th)/ .364 (6th)/ .675 (7th).

Other key rankings: 1st strikeouts, 3rd hits, tied for 4th HRs (23), 6th runs,

Team pitching:

1st hit batters, 2nd strikeouts, 2nd fewest HRs allowed (15), 6th WHIP (1.22), 8th ERA (3.57),

NOTES OF INTEREST: Tyree Thompson was brought up from extended spring to start for Hickory on Saturday… C Sam Huff and LHP John King were both promoted to High-A Down East…  RHPs Kelvin Gonzalez and Nick Starr were assigned to Hickory from extended spring… OF Miguel Aparicio was brought off the injured list.

 

Defense Dooms Crawdads; Asheville Takes Series Finale 5-3

Defensive miscues and lapses played a big role Friday night in the Hickory Crawdads 5-3 South Atlantic League loss to the Asheville Tourists at L.P. Frans Stadium.

A crowd of 2,999 saw the Crawdads (22-11) drop the final game of a three-game series and, in turn, lose their first series of the season. The Crawdads had won seven and tied two others prior to the series with the Tourists, which improved to 11-22 with the win. Hickory did not lose any ground to first-place Delmarva (Md.) in the Northern Division, but did fall back into a tie for second with Greensboro after its win over the Shorebirds. Both Hickory and Greensboro are four games behind Delmarva.

Hickory entered play Friday as the second-best fielding team in the South Atlantic League with 27 errors committed in 32 games. The Crawdads showed their defensive skills early on in support of starter Grant Wolfram.

Luke Morgan and Grant Lavigne hit back-to-back doubles in the first, but centerfielder Miguel Aparicio was able to field a carom of the wall on Lavigne’s double and quickly relay the ball to the infield to hold Morgan at third and save a run.

In the second, Frainyer Chavez ranged far to his left to make a sliding grab of a roller in the outfield grass and throw out Daniel Montano at first.

Curtis Terry started the Hickory offense with his seventh home run of the season in the third. But the defense played a role in allowing the Tourists to get even in the fourth.

After Lavigne singled, Willie MacIver reached when third baseman Sherten Apostel mishandled a double-play grounder at third. The Crawdads got a brief reprieve when Johnny Cresto lined into a double play. However, Montano doubled in MacIver, who circled around from first to make it 1-1.

The Tourists scored twice in the fifth to take the lead. With one out, Javier Guevara walked and Will Golson lined a single to right. On the play, Jose Almonte allowed the ball to get by and roll to the wall. His error allowed Guevara to score and moved Golson to third from were he came in on Terrin Vavra’s sacrifice fly.

Hickory got even in the sixth with the help of control issues by reliever Mike Nikorak. Jonathan Ornelas started the inning with a double and strolled home on Curtis Terry’s single. Nikorak walked the bases loaded, then hit Aparicio to force in a run and tie the score at three.

Crawdads reliever Nick Snyder had his best outing of the season in relief. Picking up for Wolfram in the fifth, Snyder retired all seven he faced and struck out four through the seventh.

However, the game fell apart for Hickory in the eighth with Grant Anderson (3-3) on the mound. Vavra doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a wild pitch. Morgan battled through a 14-pitch at-bat to earn a walk, then stole second. Anderson struck out Lavigne, but after Morgan stole second the Crawdads opted to intentionally walk MacIver to load the bases. The next hitter, Cresto, hit a slow grounder to Chavez at second. The runner, MacIver, stopped en route to second, which prompted Chavez to get the sure out at first. Vavra scored on the play and when MacIver extended the rundown, Morgan also scored from second for what turned out to be the final margin.

Derrik Watson worked out of Nikorak’s jam in the sixth, then got out of a mess of his own making to strand two in the seventh for the win (1-0).

Raymells Rosa pitched a scoreless eighth and Alexander Martinez threw a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season.

Retooled Lineup, Henriquez Rude to Tourists; Crawdads Win 6-2

The Hickory Crawdads suffered major changes to their lineup over the past week. Yet on Thursday, the retooled group put together a steady performance for a 6-2 win over Asheville at L.P. Frans Stadium.

After losing their second in a row for the first time this year on Wednesday, Hickory (22-10) never trailed in evening the three-game series with its in-state, South Atlantic League rival. The Crawdads and Tourists (11-21) will finish off the series Friday night.

The victory also placed Hickory back in sole possession of second place after Greensboro (21-11) lost at Delmarva (Md.) on Thursday. However, because Delmarva (25-5) won, Hickory remained four games behind the Shorebirds in the Northern Division.

During the day on Thursday, the Crawdads received news on two of their top hitting prospects. Catcher Sam Huff, who leads the minors with 15 home runs, was promoted to High-A Down East.

Hickory also received word that shortstop Chris Seise will miss the remainder of the season after he will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Seise injured the shoulder during a play last Thursday in Greenville. The Crawdads are still without outfielder Miguel Aparicio who went to the injured list last week getting hit in the eye with a throw in Greenville (S.C.) last week.

With the changes at hand, the revamp lineup collected 11 hits on Thursday with all nine players getting at least one.

“We’ve had some pretty major subtractions to our roster lately,” said Crawdads manager Matt Hagen. “But, the saying is next man up. We still have a really good team. It’s actually going to give some guys more opportunities to blossom into the best version of themselves that they can possibly be.”

Scoreless after three, the Crawdads finally broke through against starter Shelby Lackey (1-3). With runners on the corners and none out, Tanner Gardner’s fielder’s choice scored Jonathan Ornelas, who singled to start the inning. Pedro Gonzalez reached on an infield hit, then he and Gardner advanced to second and third on a throwing error by Coco Montes at third. One out later, Jose Almonte doubled to the wall in left center to make it 3-0.

Hickory’s Ronny Henriquez was dominant in his start over four shutout innings. The 18-year-old struck out eight and gave up just two singles during his 54-pitch (38 strikes) outing.

“He’s shown that at times,” said Hagen. “But what he did tonight was the first time he’s shown that for a four-inning stint. Tonight, he was in control for all four.”

Particularly effective was the use of the slider by right-handed Henriquez against left-handed hitters. Henriquez set the tone right away by striking out the side in the first. All three outpitches were sliders in at the hands.

“Usually, from a right-handed guy,” Hagen said. “You want to see something that can equalize bats, and you think changeup. He’s slider was absolutely on tonight as the equalizer.”

Tai Tiedemann took over and after a scoreless inning, the Tourists struck back in the sixth. Kyle Datres walked and was joined on the bases by Cade Harris, who reached on a bunt single. A sacrifice moved both up before Grant Lavigne’s grounder to second brought in Datres. Harris later scored on a wild pitch.

However, the Crawdads rebounded quickly with three singles to start the sixth with Sherten Apostel’s single to center scoring Gardner.

Almonte’s second two-run double of the night added insurance runs in the eighth and accounted for the final margin.

Tiedemann (1-0) got the scorer’s decision win. Scott Engler struck out three over two scoreless innings for his third save.

Series Preview: Asheville Tourists at Hickory Crawdads May 8-10

Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) (10-20, sixth place, South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (21-9, second place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads return to L.P. Frans Stadium Wednesday through Monday and start the homestand with a three-game series against in-state Asheville.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Wednesday: Asheville at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Kids Win Wednesday (All kids 12 and under receive a free ticket, free meal voucher, and free bounce house, speed pitch and carousel voucher every Wednesday night game) Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Wine Wednesday

Thursday: Asheville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Thirsty Thursday, Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Napoleon Dynamite Night (Dress as a Napoleon Dynamite character and receive a ticket for $6).

Friday: Asheville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Postgame Fireworks, Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Dodgeball Night (Dress up as an Average Joe or a Purple Cobra and receive a $6 ticket.)

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The Crawdads took two out of three against Asheville during a series played at L.P. Frans in April. Since 2009 and the start of the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation, Hickory is 51-48 vs. Asheville, but the Tourists hold a 27-24 margin at L.P. Frans.

 

PROBABLES (Asheville/ Hickory)

Wednesday: LHP Nick Bush vs. RHP Hans Crouse

Thursday: RHP Shelby Lackey vs. RHP Ronny Henriquez

Friday:  LHP Colton Schmidt vs. LHP Grant Wolfram

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads split a four-game series at Kannapolis to complete a 5-2 road trip. Hickory has played nine series so far this season and have won seven of them and split the other two. After losing the final game at Kannapolis on Monday, the Crawdads will try to avoid their first back-to-back loses of the year on Wednesday. Hickory is 8-5 at home.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 20

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley (.163/.330/.209) or Sam Huff (.317/.355/.769); 1B Curtis Terry (.257/.308/.560); 2B Frainyer Chavez (.260/.349/.274); 3B Sherten Apostel (.163/.245/.239); SS Jonathan Ornelas (.345/.421/.500); OF LF: Tanner Gardner (.143/.200/.429); CF: Pedro Gonzalez (.233/.310/.500); RF: Jose Almonte (.163/.213/.279)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – 4th homers (7)

Sam Huff – 1st home runs (14), 1st RBI (27), 1st total bases, 1st slugging pct. (.769), 1st OPS (1.124), tied for 3rd runs, tied for 5th hits, tied for 10th strikeouts

Jonathan Ornelas – 4th batting avg. (.345), 8th OBP (.421), 10th OPS (.921).

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (15), tied for 2nd RBI (26), 5th total bases, tied for 5th home runs (6), 7th slugging pct. (.560)

Matt Whatley – Tied for 2nd walks, tied for 6th stolen bases (10)

Individual pitching:

Tim Brennan – 3rd WHIP (0.73)

Hans Crouse – 10th WHIP (0.86)

Yerry Rodriguez – 5th ERA (1.38)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.234 (6th)/ .305 (12th)/ .412 (2nd)/ .717 (4th).

Other key rankings: 2nd home runs, 2nd stolen bases, 3rd total bases, 4th runs, 4th strikeouts, 1th doubles, 11th walks,

Team Pitching:

1st ERA (2.75), 2nd WHIP (1.11), fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest walks allowed, fewest hit batters, 11th home runs allowed (17),

WHO’S HOT (Last 10 games)

Hitting: Sam Huff (5 HRs, 14 RBI, .289/.357/.711/.1.068); Pedro Gonzalez (.323/.432/.581/.1.013); Jonathan Ornelas (5 SBs, .395/.452/.500/.952); Frainyer Chavez (5 SBs, .387/.472/.387/.859)

Pitching: Grant Anderson (4 games, 2 saves, 4 IP, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB, OBA .143, WHIP 0.75); Dylan Bice (3 games 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

WHO’S NOT (Last 10 games)

Hitting: Sherten Apostel (6-for-37, 12 K, .162/.200/.200); Jose Almonte (5-for-35, 10 K .161/.235/.194)

ABOUT ASHEVILLE:

The Tourists won the first two of a homestand but lost the last five, including a four-game sweep to Delmarva (Md.). Asheville is 3-11 on the road.

Manager: Robinson Cancel (1st year)

Prospects – Asheville (rankings by MLB.com):

1B Grant Lavigne No. 4

RHP Riley Pint No. 7

SS Terrin Vavra No. 13

OF Daniel Montano No. 18

RHP Ryan Feltner No. 23

C Willie MacIver No. 27

RHP Mike Nikorak No. 28

Possible Lineups: C: Javier Guevara (.204/.218/.259) or Willie MacIver (.287/.357/.535); 1B Grant Lavigne (.247/.388/.376); 2B Coco Montes (.230/.301/.290); 3B: John Cresto (.310/.364/.521); SS: Terrin Vavra (.327/.423/.515); LF: Will Golsan (.218/.304/.376); CF: Daniel Montano (.267/.324/.386); RF: Cade Harris (.200/.412/.360).

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

John Cresto – Tied for 7th doubles (9)

Cade Harris – Tied for 6th walks

Grant Lavigne – 1st walks

Willie McIver – Tied for 6th RBI (20), tied for 9th total bases, 10th slugging pct. (.535), tied for 10th homers (5)

Terrin Vavra – Tied for third caught stealing (4), 4th walks, 5th runs scored, tied for 5th hits, 7th OBP (.423), 9th batting avg. (.327), 9th OPS (.938).

Individual pitching:

Jake Bird – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 3rd hit batters,

Nick Bush – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 10th runs allowed, tied for 10th earned runs allowed,

Ryan Feltner – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, 5th hits allowed

Alfredo Garcia – 1st runs allowed, 1st earned runs allowed, tied for 3rd hits allowed, tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 7th hit batters

Nick Kennedy – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12)

Boby Johnson – Tied for 8th games pitched (11)

Shelby Lackey – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 10th runs allowed

Alex Martinez – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 3rd saves (4)

Mike Nikorak – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 8th walks

Riley Pint – Tied for 2nd walks allowed

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .252 (2nd)/ .343 (2nd)/ .399 (3rd)/ .742 (1st).

Other key rankings: 1st doubles, 1st walks, 3rd hits, 3rd fewest strikeouts, 3rd stolen bases, 3rd caught stealing, 4th total bases, 5th runs,

Team pitching:

Last ERA (5.59), Last WHIP (1.52), 1st runs allowed, 1st earned runs allowed, 1st home runs allowed, 2nd hits allowed, 2nd walks allowed, 3rd hit batters, 13th strikes,

NOTES OF INTEREST: Crawdads SS Chris Seise, OFs Miguel Aparicio and Chad Smith, pitchers Jean Casanova and Hever Bueno are on the injured list. Added to the roster are Tanner Gardner and Tyler Depreta-Johnson.

 

Series Preview: Hickory Crawdads at Kannapolis May 3-6

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (19-7, 2nd Northern Division)

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (10-15, 6th Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads continue a weeklong homestand with a four-game series against the Kannapolis Intimidators at Intimidators Stadium.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: From Hickory, take Hwy 321 South to Gastonia, then I-85 North to Exit 63 (Lane Street). Turn left. Ballpark is on the right.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Friday: 7:00 p.m. (Piedmont Boll Weevils Night, Baseball Card Strip Giveaway to first 1,000 fans)

Saturday: 7:00 p.m. (Star Wars Night, Postgame Fireworks)

Sunday: 3:00 p.m. (Cinco de Mayo, Kids Run the Bases)

Monday: 7:00 p.m.

TICKETS: Prices in advance range from $7 for general admission to $9 for reserve, $2 less for children. Add $2 on gameday.

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

Hickory took two out of three during a series at L.P. Frans to open the home season in early April. The Crawdads went 14-9 against Kannapolis in 2018, but the Intimidators defended their home turf by winning six of 9 there.

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Kannapolis)

Friday: RHP Grant Wolfram vs. Jonathan Stiever

Saturday: LHP John King vs. LHP Taylor Varnell

Sunday: RHP Tim Brennan vs. RHP Davis Martin

Monday: RHP Yerry Rodriguez vs. LHP Konnor Pilkington

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads continued their early-season domination on the road with a three-game sweep at Greenville this week. Hickory is 10-3 on the road and have won all four series played at visiting stadiums. The Crawdads have also won seven of eight series and tied the other one 2-2 with Lakewood last weekend.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Miguel Aparicio; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 2nd homers (7), 9th slugging pct. (.579), tied for 10th runs (16).

Sam Huff –1st homers (13), 1st slugging pct. (.820), 1st OPS (1.189), 1st total bases, tied for 2nd RBI (23), tied 3rd runs (20), tied for 8th hits (29).

Jonathan Ornelas – 7th batting avg. (.348), 8th on-base pct. (.423).

Chris Seise – 2nd caught stealing, tied for 2nd triples (3), tied for 10th steals (6), tied for 10th strikeouts.

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (13), tied for 2nd RBI (23), 5th total bases, 5th slugging pct. (.606), tied for 5th homers (6).

Matt Whatley – Tied for 3rd walks.

Individual pitching:

Hans Crouse – Tied for 10th WHIP (0.86), tied for 9th hit batters.

Yerry Rodriguez – 6th ERA (1.71)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.239 (5th)/ .308 (8th)/ .429 (1st)/ .736 (2nd).

Other key rankings: 1st total bases, tied for 1st home runs, 2nd total bases, 4th stolen bases, 4th runs.

Team Pitching: fewest runs allowed, fewest hit batters, fewest walks allowed, 2nd ERA (2.77), 2nd WHIP (1.10), fourth fewest home runs allowed

 

ABOUT KANNAPOLIS:

The Intimidators were swept in a three-game series at home by Charleston (S.C.) and overall they have lost five of seven. Kannapolis is 4-8 at home in 2019.

Manager: Ryan Newman (1st season)

Prospects – Kannapolis (rankings by MLB.com):

LHP Konnor Pilkington No. 20

3B Bryce Bush No. 21

RHP Jonathan Stiever No. 27

Possible Lineups: C: Evan Skoug or Gunnar Troutwine; 1B: Amado Nunez; 2B: Ramon Beltre; 3B: Bryce Bush or Luis Curbelo; SS: Lenyn Sosa; LF: Alex Destino or Romy Gonzalez; CF: Ian Dawkins; RF: Logan Sowers

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Ramon Beltre – Tied for 2nd triples (3)

Bryce Bush – Tied for 6th triples (2)

Luis Curbelo – Tied for 6th strikeouts, tied for 8th RBI (18), tied for 10th doubles

Ian Dawkins – 4th stolen bases (8), tied for 6th doubles (9), 10th hits

Individual pitching:

Jason Bilous – Tied for 6th hit batters

Davis Martin – 1st home runs allowed (9), 2nd earned runs allowed, tied for 2nd runs allowed, tied for 3rd hits allowed

Konnor Pilkington – Tied for 4th strikeouts, 6th WHIP (0.77), tied for 6th hit batters, tied for 9th innings pitched

Bennett Sousa – Tied for 5th games pitched

Jonathan Stiever – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed (5), tied for 9th hits allowed

Taylor Varnell – Tied for 2nd hit batters, tied for 6th strikeouts, 7th (0.79), WHIP 8th innings pitched, 9th ERA (1.93)

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .233 (7th)/ .307 (10th)/ .346 (8th)/ .653 (9th).

Other key rankings: 1st triples (11), 2nd doubles, 3rd strikeouts, tied for 6th runs scored, tied for 7th hits, 12th walks, last HRs (6).

Team pitching: 2nd fewest walks allowed, tied for 2nd home runs allowed, 3rd strikeouts, 3rd most hits allowed, 4th most runs allowed, 9th ERA (3.93), 9th WHIP (1.29)

 

Series Preview: Hickory Crawdads at Greenville (S.C.) Drive April 30-May 2

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (16-7, 2nd Northern Division)

Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox) (11-12, 3rd Southern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads start a weeklong homestand with a three-game series at Fluor Field at West End in downtown Greenville.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: From Hickory, take Hwy 321 South to Gastonia, then I-85 South into South Carolina. Take I-385 (exit 51) towards downtown, which ends into North St. Turn right onto North Church St. Follow that down to the Municipal Complex and plan to park there. Shuttle from the lot to the stadium is free, as is parking.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Tuesday: 2:05 p.m. (Drive Business Downtown)

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: 7:05 p.m. (Dollar Drink Night)

TICKETS: Prices in advance range from $8 at Pesky’s Porch to $16 for Green Monster Seats. Add $1 on the day of the game. $8 lawn and deck seating available on the day of the game.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The two teams played all eight games at Greenville a year ago with Hickory taking six of the eight played at Fluor Field. Overall, since 2009, the Crawdads are 46-41, 22-21 at Greenville.

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Greenville)

Tuesday: RHP Yerry Rodriguez vs. RHP Chris Machamer

Wednesday: RHP Hans Crouse vs. RHP Brayan Bello

Thursday: RHP Jean Casanova vs. RHP Alex Scherff

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads polished off their second winning homestand of the young season by defeating Lakewood 10-3 on Sunday. Hickory split this four-game series against the BlueClaws and went 4-3 overall. The team has played better on the road. They are 8-2 on the road and 8-5 at home.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 8 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Miguel Aparicio; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 2nd homers (7)

Sam Huff –1st homers (12), 1st slugging pct. (.805), 1st OPS (1.163), 1st total bases, tied 3rd runs (17), tied for 9th hits (25), tied for 8th RBI (16)

Jonathan Ornelas – 8th batting avg. (.345), 9th on-base pct. (.419), 9th OPS (.947)

Chris Seise – Tied for 2nd triples (3), 2nd caught stealing, tied for 8th strikeouts

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (11), 1st RBI (23), tied for 2nd total bases, 3rd slugging pct. (.639), tied for 3rd homers (6), 8th OPS (.960),

Matt Whatley – Tied for 2nd walks

Individual pitching:

Hans Crouse – 3rd WHIP (0.69), 5th ERA (1.33), tied for 7th hit batters.

John King – 6th hits allowed

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.229 (9th)/ .294 (11th)/ .429 (1st)/ .723 (2nd).

Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 1st total bases, 5th runs, 2nd total bases, 2nd fewest caught stealing, 3rd stolen bases, 3rd doubles, 11th hits, 12th walks

Team Pitching: 1st ERA (2.52), 1st WHIP (1.06), fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest hit batters, fewest walks allowed, 4th fewest hits allowed.

 

ABOUT GREENVILLE:

The Drive return home from a 4-3 road trip after splitting a four-game series at Lexington (Ky.). Greenville is 5-4 at Fluor Field.

Manager: Iggy Suarez (1st season)

Prospects – Greenville (rankings by MLB.com):

1B Triston Casas No. 2 (No. 6 1B prospect)

3B Brandon Howlett No. 15

RHP Alex Scherff No. 21

RHP Brayan Bello No. 25

LHP Yoan Aybad No. 29

Possible Lineups: C: Kole Cottam; 1B Triston Casas; 2B: Korby Batesole or Kervin Suarez; 3B: Brandon Howlett; SS: Grant Williams; LF: Jordan Wren; CF: Cole Brannen; RF: Tyler Esplin.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Cole Brannen – Tied for third caught stealing (3), tied for 4th steals (8), tied for 8th strikeouts

Kervin Suarez – Tied for third caught stealing (3)

Individual pitching:

Rio Gomez – Tied for 1st saves (4)

Hunter Hayworth – Tied for 7th hits allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed, tied for 10th earned runs allowed

Chris Machamer – Tied for 10th hits allowed

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.217 (12th)/ .299 (10th)/ .290 (13th)/ .620 (13th).

Other key rankings: most strikeouts, most caught stealing, 13th runs scored, 13th hits, 13th total bases

Team pitching: 3rd most hits allowed, 8th ERA (3.55), tied for 11th WHIP (1.35)

 

Crawdads Blasts Gain Win

Success for the Hickory Crawdads this season has usually been courtesy of the team’s big bats. It was true again Sunday afternoon as Hickory swatted four home runs in defeating the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws 10-3 in front of 1,528 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The win gave Hickory (16-7) a split in the four-game series, which helped it avoid their first losing series of the season, as well as back-to-back losses for the first time. It also gave the Crawdads a winning homestand at 4-3 this week. They will take off Monday before starting a seven-game road trip the next day at Greenville (S.C.).

Hickory also used the victory to pick up ground on first-place Delmarva (Md.) in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division standings. The Shorebirds (17-4) dropped a 3-0 game to Augusta (Ga.) and have lost two straight, which has shrinked their lead over Hickory to two games.

Lakewood (8-16) wrapped up its road trip at 4-3 and now return home to face West Virginia on Tuesday.

The Crawdads pounded out 11 hits on Sunday with four of them leaving the park. Hickory now has double-digit hits in five games overall this season, two of those coming in the series and four of the five total against Lakewood pitching.

With the four home runs, Hickory now has 33 for the season, which is six more than Greensboro. The Crawdads also lead the SAL with a .429 slugging pct.

The barrage started in the first against Lakewood starter Francisco Morales (0-2). After the first two hitters fanned, Curtis Terry drilled a 96 miles-per-hour fastball to right for his sixth home run of the season. Three pitches later, Sam Huff walloped a 97 mph pitch well out to left for his 11th of the season. Huff is not tied with Round Rock’s Yordan Alvarez and Reno’s Kevin Cron for the minor league lead.

In the third, Matt Whatley added a two-run shot – his first of the season – to left.

An error on a force play opened the gate for Hickory to add two more in the fourth. The first run scored when Frainyer Chavez successfully laid down and beat out a squeeze bunt that scored Pedro Gonzalez from third. On the play, Miguel Aparcio advanced from first to third, which proved beneficial for the Crawdads after Chris Seise brought him in with a fly ball to center to make it 6-0.

Tim Brennan held Lakewood scoreless through four innings, but ran into trouble with two outs in the fifth. With Malvin Matos on first, Cole Stobbe joined him with a single. Jonathan Guzman singled in Matos before back-to-back misplays on the infield set up the second run. Ben Pelletier grounded to third but the throw went to second, where Guzman beat third baseman Sherten Apostel’s throw, to load the bases. Rafael Marchan hit a routine grounder to second, but the first baseman Terry slipped while covering the bases and that brought in two more runs.

Grant Anderson was brought in and he ended the rally by getting Abrahan Gutierrez to hit the first pitch and fly out to right.

Gonzalez got the two runs back with his seventh home run of the season, a two -run shot to left. The outfielder is now second in the SAL in homers.

The Crawdads rounded out the scoring in the sixth on Terry’s RBI double, and he later scored when first baseman Matt Kroon dropped a throw on the relay home following Gonzalez’s single.

Hickory’s bullpen allowed just three walks over 4.1 shutout innings. After getting the final out in the fifth, Anderson (3-1) worked around a walk in the sixth.

Hever Bueno pitched two scoreless innings with two walks allowed. Dylan Bice struck out two of the three in the ninth to close out the win.

Lakewood Trio Declaws Crawdads Bats

Three Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws pitchers combined to hold the Hickory Crawdads to three hits in a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon in front of 3,529 at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Lakewood has won two out of three during the four-game series,  which wraps up Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Hickory (15-7) will try to avoid its first series loss of the season after winning the first six.

Lakewood (8-15) entered the series ranked near the bottom of the South Atlantic League in most pitching categories. However, for the second time in three games, the BlueClaws held the Crawdads to three hits in winning both of their games. For Hickory, it is the third time during the homestand and fourth out of seven it has had just three hits in a game.

As it turned out, the BlueClaws scored what it needed in the second against Crawdads starter John King (1-2). Carlos De La Cruz hit the first of his doubles in the game to start the inning. Two outs later, Jake Holmes fisted a roller down the line past first for a run-scoring triple. Ben Pelletier’s infield hit scored Holmes to make it 2-0.

Coming off 13 hits on Friday, the Crawdads picked up the attack again early. They put two on with two outs in the first but stranded both. Pedro Gonzalez swatted his sixth home run of the season in the second to cut Hickory’s deficit in half.

The Crawdads seemed poised to tie or take the lead in the third against Jhordany Mezquita. Coming off Friday’s four-hit game, Jonathan Ornelas chopped a single over the head of the first baseman Holmes. Ornelas stole second and after Matt Whatley walked, he stole third as well. Curtis Terry struck out, but Sam Huff built a 3-0 advantage. However, Mezquita was able to get Huff to foul out to Holmes and Sherten Apostel to fly out to left.

That turned out to be the last hurrah for the Crawdads in the game. Mezquita pitched the four innings and Robinson Martinez turned threw a scoreless fifth before turning the ball over to Dominic Pipkin. The right-hander allowed just one walk over the final four innings and struck out four to pick up the scorer’s decision win. Pipkin improved to 1-1 on the season.

King allowed just the two runs over seven innings, which is his pro career high, as well as the team high for the season. The lefty surrendered nine hits without a walk and struck out four.

Lakewood added its final two runs against reliever Scott Engler in the eighth on a home run by Alec Bohm, his third of the year.