The Kannapolis Intimidators put up their first win of the season as they throttled the Hickory Crawdads 10-3 in front of 1,269 fans at Intimidators Stadium.
The I’s never trailed as they opened the scoring with a two-run double by Landon Lassiter in the second. A three-run blast from Zach Fish completed a four-run third inning before the Intimidators added two runs in the fourth and fifth to blow it up to the final margin.
Johan Cruz had an sacrifice fly in the third and added a two run double in the fifth.
LaDarious Clark hit his first homer of the season in the third. Jose Almonte added an RBI single in the fourth before Clark scored on an attempted double steal in the fifth.
Tanner Banks allowed three runs on six hits over the first five innings to pick up the win for Kannapolis. Matt Ball and Taylore Cherry each threw two shutout innings, as the trio combined for 13 strikeouts.
Hickory put up 11 hits, added two walks and put three others aboard on Kannapolis errors, but scored just three runs. The Crawdads stranded 11 and went 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position and the trouble started in the first. Hickory put two on with one out and loaded the bases one out later, but Dylan Moore lined to center and Eduard Pinto bounced back to the mound. A double play in the second erased a leadoff runner. In the third Ibanez reached on a leadoff double, but nothing came of the scoring chance. The Crawdads put two on in the sixth, but came up empty. Two more reached in the seventh with one out, but Moore K’d and Frandy De La Rosa fouled to the catcher. Again, two more runners aboard with one out in the eighth, but Darius Day and LaDarious Clark struck out. To close it out, Ibanez reached 2B with none out in the ninth, but Tyler Sanchez and Dylan Moore whiffed before Frandy De La Rosa hit into a bad-call, 4-1 bouncer to end it.
Ibanez continues to rip the ball in the early season. He raked a middle-in fastball in the first and doubled to the LCF wall in the first. He took another such pitch and ripped it down the line in LF in the third. After walking in the fifth, he was fooled by a slider from Ball in the seventh before working a second walk. Ibanez then took a fastball away and lined it for a single up the middle in the ninth.
Eduard Pinto looks back in gear on Sunday, seeing the ball into the catcher’s mitt as he was want to do in 2015. Pinto pulled a fastball into the RF corner and added a single in the sixth.
Clark put up a couple of hits, including a homer in the third. He apparently didn’t think much of the contact as he slammed his bat, but the ball continued to carry and easily cleared the fence in LCF. He also added a broken bat single in the fifth. Conversely, Clark fanned three times as he had trouble with the breaking ball.
Hickory struck out 13 times: Moore, Day and Forbes each with three.
The first non-complex start by Jonathan Hernandez was not a good one as he struggled with fastball control. At times, the 6-2, 183-pound right-hander appeared to overthrow the pitch, including one offering in which Hernandez wound up on the grass to the first-base side of the mound. He began to introduce his offspeed pitches the second time through the order and it was an 0-2 change (it appeared to be a CH- no speed gun) that stayed up to Johan Cruz and Cruz got enough on it to pull it to left. A Baltimore Chop grounder by Antonio Rodriguez over the head of Ibanez at second compounded the inning before Zach Fish hit a no-doubt, three-run blast. That made it 6-1 in the third and the game began to ebb away. Hernandez threw his slider a few times late in the outing and got Cody Daily to swing through one to end the third.
Andy Choplick showed a decent fastball-curve combination and was more thwarted by a couple of seeing-eye hits and poor defensive play than anything.
Johan Juan retired the side in the eighth with a lively fastball, though control was iffy at times.
Four errors and another botched play during which Ti’Quan Forbes was late covering first compounded things for the Crawdads throughout the game.
Darius Day booted a double down the line in left that led to a run in the second. However, he made a couple of star-quality plays later on, including a long run into the LF corner to snag Daily’s fly ball. He added a nice catch of a liner off the bat of Corey Zangari in the eighth.
A weak throw by Frandy De La Rosa across the diamond from third to first in the fourth aided the two-run inning. It was a throw that possibly could’ve been scooped out at first, but Forbes’ inexperience worked against him there.
In the fifth, Forbes made a misjudgment in going after a ball in the hole at second that Ibanez easily got to, and then further exacerbated the situation by not getting back to first quick enough. Add to that a dropped pop foul and it was a tough afternoon for a guy making his first pro start at the position.
Clark dropped a ball in center after attempting a basket catch.
Hickory has committed nine errors in four games, something that certainly will be addressed by the Rangers as the organization is adamant about helping their pitchers do what they need to do to get outs.
Two steals by Clark, but one of those happened after he was picked off first it the fifth, yet Cruz was late getting the tag down.
Ibanez caught off second and into a rundown in the third after a bouncer to the mound. However, Moore did a good job on hustling to second during the rundown to replace Ibanez.
Jose Almonte got caught flat-footed on a pickoff by catcher Seby Zavala in the fourth.
As good as Ibanez has been in the early going, we’ve found out that he will show his emotions on the field, and in this game, it was not a good thing. On the play in the fifth with Forbes, Ibanez was visible in his displeasure with Forbes, extending both hands to his sides. Ibanez did a similar gesture toward the base umpire after Rodriguez beat out a close play in the sixth. In the seventh, it was an adamant disagreement with the home plate ump after Ibanez was ruled to not have checked his swing. It didn’t appear to be a good look.