The Rome Braves rallied with single runs in the eighth and ninth inning to claim a 3-2 over the Hickory Crawdads Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The loss for the Crawdads (27-17) combined with a win by Hagerstown (Md.) at Lakewood (N.J.) dropped Hickory into second place by a half-game in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. The Crawdads have lost five of the last six games.
Although Rome (17-27) remains at the bottom of the Southern Division standings, the Braves continue to confound the Crawdads and have evened the series record at 4-4.
Hickory’s Pedro Payano and Rome’s Patrick Wiegel held the opposing offenses in check for the most part, though each contributed to their own trouble in the game.
Rome used defensive miscues to get onto the scoreboard in the second. With one out, Carlos Castro singled to right and moved to second on a passed ball by Chuck Moorman. After Payano struck out Lucas Herbert, Payano’s attempted pickoff of Castro bounced into center and moved the runner to third. Leudys Baez blooped a single to left for the RBI.
Ti’Quan Forbes got Hickory even in the third with his first pro home run, a fly ball that carried over the fence in left.
Wiegel returned the favor with a miscue of his own that gave Hickory the lead in the fifth. With one out, Eduard Pinto singled. Forbes followed with a bouncer back to the mound. Wiegel turned to second for the force play, but instead bounced the ball into centerfield, which allowed Pinto to go to third. Moorman’s groundout to second scored Pinto.
Though the Braves struck out three times in the eighth, Rome used two of those whiffs to score the tying run. With one out, Blake Bass struck out Austin Riley, but the pitch bounced to the backstop and allowed Riley to reach. Riley stole second and Jonathan Morales walked to end Bass’s night. Reliever Joe Palombo struck out Justin Elliott, but Carlos Castro loaded the bases with his second hit of the night. The Crawdads appeared to be out of the inning as Herbert struck out, but his strikeout pitch went to the backstop with Riley scoring on the play.
Rome scored the go-ahead run in the ninth as Ray-Patrick got an infield hit, stole second, and scored on Austin Riley’s double with two outs.
LeDarious Clark singled and stole second with two outs, but got no further as Pinto bounced back to the mound to end it.
Sloppy ‘Dads Hinder Efforts:
At times Monday, Hickory looked like a team that was tired from a weeklong road trip. Alejandro Salazar hit what looked like a routine single in the first. However, when centerfielder Eric Jenkins was slow to retrieve the ball, Salazar turned it to a hustle double, sliding into second easily.
Frandy De La Rosa appeared to lose track of the count as he remained in the batter’s box to hit after a third strike was called for the out.
Chuck Moorman didn’t seem his usual steady self behind the plate as the passed ball and two wild pitches all came on breaking balls by three different pitchers.
Forbes Stock up or down:
Ti’Quan Forbes showed in the course of Monday’s game the inconsistent season that has played out thus far.
At the plate, Forbes took a hanging curveball from Wiegel and served it out to left. However, with runners at second and third, Forbes mistimed a first-pitch fastball from new reliever Grayson Jones and hit it into a 4-6-3 double play.
At third base, Forbes made a hard-charging, barehanded play on a bunt by Justin Ellison in the sixth. In the ninth, Forbes bobbled an easy roller to extend the inning.
Impatience at the plate:
Of the 33 hitters Hickory sent to the plate on Monday, 21 of them saw four or fewer pitches. Eleven of them faced 1 or 2 pitches.
Payano not what it seems:
Payano needed 91 pitches to get through six innings and his fastball wasn’t without control issues, but his line score looks worse than it appeared. Of the seven hits he gave up over six innings, only Castro’s liner in the second was well struck. His curveball throughout the game had good snap to it with several missed bats, including all three strikes in a five-pitch K of Castro in the fourth.