The Hickory Crawdads put up five runs in the first inning and went on to wallop the Greensboro Grasshoppers 10-2 Thursday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.
With the win, the Crawdads (54-35, 10-11 second half) took two out of three in the series that featured the South Atlantic League’s best team by overall record against the worst in Greensboro (35-55, 6-15).
The Crawdads will host Augusta Friday night in the start of a four-game series.
Jose Cardona started the offense by taking the second pitch from Michael Mader over the fence in left for his ninth homer of the season. One out later, Josh Morgan walked and Jose Trevino steered a Mader curveball into left. Luke Tendler raked a fastball into right for an RBI before Jairo Beras walked. That brought up Jonathan Meyer, who ripped a single off the mound and up the middle to score two. Juremi Profar finished the five-run, ten-hitter first inning with a double to right-center to make it 5-0.
Greensboro responded in the second as K.J. Woods doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Twine.
But the Crawdads tacked on two in the fourth to chase Mader (4-8). Trevino’s sacrifice fly scored Cardona, who had singled, and Tendler’s ground-rule double brought in Morgan.
Meyer’s bases-clearing double in the sixth finished off the scoring for the Crawdads.
Brett Martin (4-4) provided steady work on the mound. He matched his season-high with seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. The lefty struck out five and surrendered three walks.
Chris Dula worked around two hit batsmen in the eighth and Shane McClain added a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game for Hickory.
Fastball jumping: The Crawdads took advantage of the inability of Mader to command the fastball in the first inning. Mader threw 24 fastballs in the opener with only 11 crossing the plate. Of the 11, six were put into play, four of those for hits. Seven of the eight hits surrendered by Mader came on fastballs.
Jose Cardona: He extended his hitting streak to seven straight (12-for-25) in the win, as well as RBI in the last four. Since the all-star break (20 games), Cardona has posted a .290/.386/.478 slash. He his punishing fastballs (both hits tonight come on heaters) with the ability to see off-speed pitches well and layoff them out of the strike zone.
Carlos Arroyo: Only a circus catch in centerfield kept him from his 15th multi-hit game out of his last 30. He has reached base in 11 straight games and is hitting .342 in the second half.
Josh Morgan: Continued to shows patience at the plate. Though hitless in the game, he walked and scored twice.
Jose Trevino: After pulling several pitches into outs on Tuesday, Trevino put up three hits on Thursday – none of which were struck well, but simply put into play where the pitch was made. He lined a hanging curve to left in the first, send a low and away fastball into right in the second, then sent up and away fastballs to center and right for a sac fly and a single.
Luke Tendler: Two more hits and a walk on Thursday, now has a .357/.420/.614 slash in the second half (15 games) and has reached base in 17 of his last 18 games. It is almost impossible to get a fastball by him for now.
Jonathan Meyer: Hit the ball hard to all fields in the game. Had a hard single up the middle on a fastball in the first, drilled a fastball to CF in the third for a lineout. A seven-pitch AB ended in a deep drive to the track in left-center in the fourth. His double in the sixth on a high slider in the sixth went to the wall in right.
Brett Martin: After a tough outing in his last start at Lakewood, the lefty was steady over his seven innings. He threw 93-95 early and was still at 91-93 when tiring in the seventh. Said he stayed mostly with a changeup as an out pitch (6 missed bats with it).
The impressive thing was the poise. He rarely seems to get rattled by the surrounding circumstances. After giving up the double to Woods to lead off the second, he retired the next two in order – both on 1-0 fastballs away that were pulled for outs. After the first two reached in the fifth, Martin got a gift on bunt (down six at that point) by Mason Davis for an out, then needed two pitches – the second a changeup that got Zach Sullivan to pop to second – and then fanned John Norwood with strike three coming on a change.
Shane McClain: Now with 16 Ks/ 4 BBs in 11.1 innings, the lefty brings to mind Alex Claudio with the low-70s change and a mid-to-upper-80s fastball. Command of his fastball can be an issue but not on Thursday when he pitched a clean ninth and struck out two.
Chris Dula: Has hard stuff (95-96), but has no clue where it is going. He has walked or hit at least one batter in 11 straight outings (24 BBs or HBPs in 12 innings). Dula has just one clean relief outing in 25 appearances, which came when he struck out the only batter he faced on Mary 20
Zach Sullivan made a brilliant catch in center off a drive from Arroyo in the second. He sprinted straight back into center before making a diving, over-the-shoulder catch. However in the fourth, is weak and off-line throw home on a Trevino’s shallow fly allowed Cardona to score easily as well as allowed Morgan to tip-toe to third.
Michael Mader: With the fastball difficulty noted earlier, it’s also interesting to see the home-road split of the lefty. Despite pitching in one of the friendlier hitter’s ballparks in the SAL, Mader has a 1.45 ERA in six games with a .189 OBA. On the road, he is 0-8 in 12 starts with a 8.23 ERA and a .325 OBA.
Dugout presence: It was interesting to note in the fourth inning the presence – or lack of – the teams in their dugouts. With Hickory in the field and the Grasshoppers at the plate, the dugout railing on the Hickory side was full. The Greensboro side might have had four or five persons at the rail.