Hickory at Asheville
After the Hickory Crawdads came from behind twice, they scored three runs in the top of the ninth to claim a 7-4 win over the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field.
The Crawdads (58-38 overall, 14-14 second half) took two of three games in the series and finished the season series with the Tourists at 7-2. Hickory went 6-1 at McCormick this season and is 13-2 there over the past three seasons. The Crawdads take an overnight bus to Lexington, Ky. and open a four-game series with the Legends on Saturday.
Asheville (49-48) dropped to 17-10 in the second half and remain a game-and-a-half in front of Augusta for the second-half, Southern Division title chase.
The two teams combined for 25 hits, but stranded 15 altogether in what turned into a see-saw affair.
Hickory put the first four runners of the game on base against Asheville starter Ryan Castellani with Jose Cardona scoring on Eduard Pinto’s single. The Crawdads missed a chance for more when Josh Morgan was thrown out at second trying to stretch a hit into a double. With runners on first and second and one out, Luke Tendler’s grounder forced Pinto at third, but 3B Josh Fuentes’ throw to first was wild placing Crawdads and second and third. Despite four hits and error, the Crawdads were held to the one run after Jairo Beras bounced out to the pitcher.
The Tourists scored an unearned run on Crawdads starter Ariel Jurado to even the game in the first. Shane Hoelscher doubled with two outs and scored when Roberto Ramos’ grounder went through the legs of Jonathan Meyer at first.
The Crawdads retook the lead in the third when Eduard Pinto was hit by a pitch and later scored on Luke Tendler’s sacrifice fly. However Asheville tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Omar Carrizales doubled to right and scored on Dom Nunez’s single to make it 2-2.
The Tourists took their first lead of the game in the fourth against new pitcher Yohander Mendez. Ramos doubled and stole third before coming home on Fuentes’s single.
Meyer’s RBI single in the sixth retied the game at three, but Juremi Profar’s double play ball stranded a runner at third.
Again, the Tourists fought back in the bottom of the inning. Jairo Rosario led off the inning with a double and scored on Fuentes’s second RBI single of the game.
Hickory answered in the seventh. Cardona doubled off the wall in left and moved to third on a Pinto’s sacrifice bunt. Trevino’s sacrifice fly to center made it 4-4.
Asheville put runners at second in both the seventh and eighth inning, but stranded both.
The decisive rally for Hickory came against reliever Jerad McCrummen (4-3) started when Profar doubled off the wall in right-center. Cardona beat out a bunt to put runners at the corner for Morgan. His liner to centerfielder Carrizales was just deep enough to score Profar, who slid around the tag of the catcher Nunez. Pinto singled in Cardona, then moved to third on a pair of McCrummen wild pitches before trotting home on Tendler’s double.
Adam Dian had a successful debut with the Crawdads by retiring all five batters he faced to close out the game and pick up the win (1-0).
Jose Cardona went 3-for-5 and scored three times, but it was his speed that factored into the equation in both the first and ninth innings. In the first, Cardona fought off Castellani’s change off, sending a soft liner that fell to second baseman Shane Hoelscher at the cut of the grass. Hoelscher made the play, but Cardona beat the throw to first and later scored the game’s first run. In the ninth, Cardona’s sacrifice bunt went between the mound and the third base line, with Cardona reaching just ahead of Fuentes’s throw.
Cardona also cut down a runner trying for a double in the sixth.
Josh Morgan had the key AB of the ninth. After falling behind 0-2 on two of McCrummen’s fastball, Morgan fouled off a slow curveball and let another go by for a ball. The next pitch was a fastball up that he lined into center for the sacrifice fly.
Eduard Pinto ripped first-pitch fastballs for RBIs in the first and ninth inning. His sacrifice in the seventh moved Cardona to third from where he scored on Trevino’s sac fly.
Jose Trevino had a couple of hits and a sacrifice fly.
Luke Tendler doubled in a run in the ninth and made a leaping catch into the wall in right to rob Carrizales of a hit in the first.
Juremi Profar’s double starting things in the decisive ninth inning. In scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth, Profar had to steer around Nunez, who had to leap to make the catch from center and then tried for the backhand tag. In the third, Profar made a backhanded stop off a short hop to start a 5-4-3 double play.
Carlos Arroyo ran down a one-hop, soft liner off the bat of Yonathan Daza by ranging back and to his right. Because the ball held up, Ramos had to hold up at second and then failed to advance when Arroyo looked him back to the base. Arroyo then recorded the out at first.
Jonathan Meyer stayed with a breaking pitch away from James Lomangio and sliced it along the line in right for a run-scoring single.
Adam Dian: Showed a fastball 90-93, but took advantage of an aggressive lineup as he started the outing with several curve and changeups, getting Ryan Stevens to chase a breaking ball for a strikeout to strand a runner at second.
Yohander Mendez gave up nine hits over 4.1 innings, four of those by left-handed hitters. From my vantage point along the third-base line, it appeared righties were able to lean out over the plate and serve pitches up the middle or to right. A single on an 0-2 pitch by Rosario started the run-scoring inning in the sixth. Carrizales also singled on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh.
McCormick Field turf: Carrizales’ double in the third happened when Luke Tendler slipped and took out a hefty divot as he attempted to make a likely catch on the liner. Carrizales eventually scored in the inning.