The Savannah Sand Gnats broke open a close game with three runs in the ninth to defeat the Hickory Crawdads 6-3.
With the win, Savannah (12-18) snapped a two-game mini-losing streak and broke the Crawdads (21-9) five-game win streak. The teams close out the four-game series with an 11 a.m. start at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The Sand Gnats never trailed in the contest after Stefan Sabol’s two-run shot in the first against Crawdads starter Nick Gardewine (2-2).
Jose Trevino (2-for-4) in his first at-bat after a day off cut the Crawdads deficit to 2-1 by serving a Scarlyn Reyes curveball to center that scored Travis Demeritte.
But, the Sand Gnats got the run back in the second when Jonathan Johnson lined a homer into the rightfield corner.
Both teams left opportunities for runs on the board throughout the game. Savannah left 11 on base, while Hickory left seven, hit into two double plays and lost a base runner on a decoy.
Hickory chopped the Sand Gnats lead to 3-2 on Luke Tendler’s (3-for-3, HBP) RBI single.
However, the Sand Gnats took care of sloppy defense in the ninth to score three.
Josh Morgan (2-for-3) singled in Marcus Greene in the ninth and the Crawdads eventually brought the tying run to the plate. However, Ricky Knapp struck out Michael De Leon to end the game.
Reyes allowed two runs over six innings and struck out four for the win (2-3) with Knapp getting the save in his first outing since he was reassigned from high-A St. Lucie.
*Jose Trevino appeared to benefit from a day off Sunday. He waited on a curveball and guided it through the first. Trevino legged out a double in the fourth and hit into bad luck in the eighth when he scorched a sharp grounder up the middle that turned into a double play.
*Luke Tendler with three hits has now hit in six straight.
*Josh Morgan had two hits and is 6-for-13 in three games against Savannah.
*Lefty Joe Filomeno impressed in his first outing with Hickory. Pounded 93-94 mph fastball in on the hands of left-handed hitters and then ran several cutters to the other corner. Mixed in a few sliders that missed bats.
*Save Filomneo, Hickory pitching had a rough night. As a group they walked six and had seven other three-ball counts. Nick Gardewine gave up a seeing-eye hit in the first and then missed his spot with a first-pitch fastball that Sabol pounced on. From there, he never seemed totally comfortable on the mound. He recorded eight groundball outs, but fastball control seemed spotty in and out of the strike zone. Yohander Mendez threw a steady diet of off-speed pitches that he was able to get Sand Gnat hitters to chase, but many others were not close enough to bait more swings. Chris Dula was hit around a bit, but his defense – while not charged with errors – contributed to a three-run ninth.
*While the defense has been stellar much of the year, for the third straight game the infield botched a bunt play that led to a run late. Tonight, a trio of players was slow to the ball between home and the mound and allowed John Mora to reach. On the same play, the lead runner went to third when it went uncovered. Later in the inning, a potential double play was thwarted when Demeritte was slow getting the ball off to short. A passed ball was also a part of the inning, but Cardona’s throw home to catch Wuilmer Becerra ended the inning.
*Jose Cardona was decoyed into an out on the bases. Running to second on De Leon’s single in the fifth, Cardona lost track of the ball and began to return to first. He was thrown out before he could get back to second. Morgan was cut down in the fourth when he tried to advance on a ball in the dirt.
Tomorrow: Ariel Jurado will attempt to win his sixth straight start to begin the season for Hickory as he faces Corey Oswalt (3-0) of Savannah. The 11 a.m. game – an Education Day contest – has been announced as a sellout.