The Greenville (S.C.) Drive took advantage of three unearned runs – two of those in the seventh – to edge the Hickory Crawdads 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,623 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium on Friday.
The win by the Drive (43-36 overall, 5-4 second half) forged a split with the Crawdads by winning the final two games of the series.
Hickory (48-29) ended its second-half, opening homestand at 4-5. They travel to Greensboro Saturday to start a four-game road series before a five-game series in Lakewood, N.J.
The Drive put up a run just three batters into the games. Yoan Moncada led off the game with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Bethea.
A botched pickoff contributed to Greenville’s second run in the second. After Mike Meyers singled and moved to second on Brett Martin’s wild pitch, a subsequent pickoff throw sailed into center to put Meyers at third. From there, Meyers scored on Bryan Hudson’s grounder to short.
The Crawdads cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third when Jose Cardona smacked his eighth home run of the season.
Later in the third, Josh Morgan and Jonathan Meyer each singled before Luke Tendler doubled in Morgan to tie the game.
It appeared in the fourth that in-climate weather might become an issue and the Crawdads took a step to claim a win just in case of a rain-shortened contest. Juremi Profar drilled a first-pitch fastball from Jalen Beeks over the wall in left to put Hickory on top 3-2.
The rain eventually stopped in the fifth and Martin settled in on the mound. He retired 12 in a row at one point and faced the minimum of 15 hitters over a five-inning stretch.
But the game fell apart for the Crawdads in the seventh. It started ominously as Martin walked Bethea on four pitches. The final pitch was in question as it appeared that home plate umpire Kyle Wallace had called time before ball four was delivered. But the pitch stood and Bethea went to first.
Nick Longhi botched a sacrifice bunt to force Bethea, but moved to second on Jonathan Meyer’s passed ball. The game changed with Martin struck out Meyers on a breaking ball in the dirt. The catcher Meyer missed tagging Meyers on the dropped third strike, and then on the ensuing throw to first airmailed the ball down the line in right. Longhi scored from second and Meyers wound up at third.
Martin got Carlos Mesa to ground out to first for the second out to hold the runner. Joe Filomeno was brought in to face Hudson, who greeted Filomeno with a run-scoring single that broke the tie.
The Crawdads last opportunity in the ninth came when Jairo Beras doubled and moved to third on a grounder. But Jamie Callahan got Profar to fly to right to end the game. He completed the three-inning save (1) in relief of Jalen Beeks (7-4), who threw the first six innings.
Brett Martin: Had a rough start with his change as he left a 1-2 offering up that Moncada sent out for the triple. Left another one up to Meyers – again on 1-2 – that went for a single, which came back to bite him in a run scored.
Otherwise, it was the second-straight start in which Martin averaged around 11 pitches per innings. In his previous start last Saturday against Lakewood, Martin needed only 54 pitches to complete five innings. Friday night, he needed only 60 to get through six innings and with a quick seventh could have gone out for the eighth. However, his four-pitch walk likely squashed that idea.
Martin finished with 75 pitches (55 strikes), throwing first-pitch strikes to 16 of 24 hitters. His fastball ran in the 92-94 range. The opening inning aside, his change and a curveball in the 80-82 range contributed to quick outs on grounders. He had single-digit pitch totals of 10 or fewer in five of his seven innings.
Joe Filomeno: After a couple of liners to end the seventh, settled down to retire six of the last seven batters he faced. The lefty throws a lively 92-94 mph fastball that gets onto hitters quick, thought it can be straight . But it was the slider that missed bats on Friday (at least four in the last two innings).
Jose Cardona and Juremi Profar: Both mashed pitches that should be mashed. Cardona ripped a high change out of the park while Profar crushed a first-pitch fastball down the middle.
Josh Morgan: Back on track after an 0-for-5 night Thursday. Stayed with a change from Beeks for a bloop single in the third . Then added a sharp one-hopper to third on a fastball in the eighth for a single.
The offense: Has lost its way in manufacturing runs as of late. In the 40 innings vs. Greenville, the Crawdads scored only seven of them – three of those home run innings. Hickory had nine hits, but scored only three.
Jonathan Meyer: A tough night for the recent, free-agent signee, who is catching his first games as a pro this week. A wild pitch by Martin in the second likely should have been stopped as the short hop hit the glove. But his passed ball and throwing error on a dropped third strike in the seventh were huge.
It appeared that he panicked on the throwing play. Having collected the curveball in the dirt on the strikeout, Meyer tried to tag Meyers out of the box but missed the runner. Meyer quickly checked the runner at second before rushing his throw to first which went into the right-field corner.
Jamie Callahan: The second-round pick of the Red Sox in 2012 (Dillon High, S.C.) showed a hammer of a 12-6 curveball (two Ks with it in the seventh) to go with a 93-95 heater. Jairo Beras squared up a fastball for a double just after Tendler lined one hard to right.
Yoan Moncada: Went 2-for-13 in the series – one of those hits a bloop single – with three strikeouts. Lined Martin’s high changeup to deep center and showed a good burst of speed to leg out the triple. None of the scouts I talked with were enamored with him. Other than maybe the speed on the triple and the ensuring run on the sac fly, there was nothing I saw that made me say, “I want to spend $31.5 million on him.” But he’s 20 and is still feeling his way in this country. There is a solid build in the 6-3, 205-pound (seems low) physique.