The Lakewood BlueClaws put pressure on Hickory from the start and pummeled the Crawdads 9-0 at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The win for Lakewood (36-36 overall, 3-1 second half) was the third in a row, and the fourth straight game in which the lineup has pounded the Crawdads pitching staff. The BlueClaws have scored 28 runs on 47 hits in the first four games of the second half. The two teams will finish the five-game series Monday night.
The game for the Crawdads (45-27, 1-3) went downhill early as the BlueClaws placed only one ball into the outfield to scored two runs in the first.
Derek Campbell reached on an infield single to start the game. Scott Kingery and Herlis Rodriguez each placed perfect bunts to the first-base side of the mound to reach and load the bases. Damek Tomscha then rolled a single through the hole at second to score Campbell. The next batter, Cord Sandberg, sent a broken-bat comebacker to Yohander Mendez on the mound. Mendez botched the grounder – the first of three errors by Hickory – which allowed Kingery to score and make it 2-0.
Things got heated during Lakewood’s three-run uprising in the third. After Kingery singled to left, Mendez hit Rodriguez in the ribs with a first-pitch fastball with Rodriguez taking several steps toward the mound with his arms outstretched. As Mendez came off the mound, the advancing Rodriguez threw his batting helmet towards Mendez, who responded by throwing his glove. Both players were ejected with Ricardo Rodriguez replacing Mendez on the mound.
‘We had hit a couple of their guys the last few games, unintentionally,” said Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale. “You know what, guys continue to get hit and it’s frustrating for sure. I see their part, but it’s not anything that we want to do on purpose or anything like that. You can see why they’d be pretty mad.”
The BlueClaws had little problem solving the new hurler’s fastball. Tomscha had an RBI double and Sandberg tacked on a run-scoring single before Tomscha scored on a wild pitch.
The Crawdads had little response in the lineup as BlueClaws starter Elniery Garcia pitched a four-hitter over seven shutout innings. Garcia retired the minimum during the first four innings before Jairo Beras touched him for a double. He struck out four and walked one.
Joey DeNato allowed a walk and a single over the final two innings.
A two-run double by Kyle Martin made it 7-0 in the fifth. In the seventh, Sandberg doubled and scored when centerfielder Jose Cardona misplayed a single by Martin, who ended up at third and came home on a grounder to short by Deivi Grullon.
“The kids are getting after it and playing well and swinging the bats well and playing well all the way around – defense, pitching,” said BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams. “We just hope to continue it on here through the second half and taking it into tomorrow.”
Jairo Beras: Continues to see pitches well. Sent a flat change down the line in right for a double and later walked.
Ariel Jurado: Not his best outing, but continues to bring an improving curveball into his repetoire. He fanned Kingery with it in the sixth and used the pitch to set up a fastball on the outside corner to RH hitting Jiandido Tromp.
Yohander Mendez: Actually had decent stuff, despite the four runs allowed. Showed a ramped up fastball that touched 96 on a strikeout of Campbell in the second. Also threw an 1-7 curve had some decent bite.
Flat Team: This may have been the worst game of the year for Hickory. The Crawdads had little life on the field and it didn’t improve even after the benches cleared. With the turnover of the roster to start the second half, it may take a bit for the team to re-gel. But Ragsdale said there was no excuse for the effort.
“That may take a little time to come together as a team and start clicking again, but it doesn’t take much to come ready to play and to play the game the right way and we didn’t do that today.”
Defense: Three errors, led to four unearned runs. Morgan committed his second error in as many games and arguably could have had a throwing error charged on the opening play of the game. Cardona pulled up on Martin’s liner in the seventh, but then let it go by him for a two-base error that led to a run. Bunt defense continues to be a problem as the Crawdads right side of the infield (2B Carlos Arroyo and 1B Juremi Profar) along with Mendez failed to coordinate covering first.
Ricardo Rodriguez: Had little movement on his 90-93 mph fastball and was punished accordingly. Showed a curveball that had some bite on occasion and K’d two with it.
Elniery Garcia: Showed an adequate three-pitch mix (90-92 fastball, change, curve). Didn’t always show control (96 pitches, 55 strikes), but with the Crawdads out of the game early, Garcia did what he needed to do to keep them off-balance and off the bases. nd Had his catcher Grullon throw out Pinto trying to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt to end the first and then induced double play balls in the second and fourth.
Damek Tomscha: The 17th round pick of the Phillies in 2014 out of Auburn had his second three-hit game of the series and it took a play by SS Michael De Leon to take away a fourth hit.
Cord Sandberg: Has hits in all four games of the series, three of those multi-hit games (9-for-17). The Phillies third-round pick in 2013 (Manatee High, FL) has attacked the fastball well and sprayed it to all fields.
2015 picks: Scott Kingery – the second-round choice out of Arizona earlier this month – is 6-for-17 in his first pro experience. Kyle Martin (fourth round, South Carolina) is 5-for-16 with five RBI.