Three Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws pitchers combined to hold the Hickory Crawdads to three hits in a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon in front of 3,529 at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Lakewood has won two out of three during the four-game series, which wraps up Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Hickory (15-7) will try to avoid its first series loss of the season after winning the first six.
Lakewood (8-15) entered the series ranked near the bottom of the South Atlantic League in most pitching categories. However, for the second time in three games, the BlueClaws held the Crawdads to three hits in winning both of their games. For Hickory, it is the third time during the homestand and fourth out of seven it has had just three hits in a game.
As it turned out, the BlueClaws scored what it needed in the second against Crawdads starter John King (1-2). Carlos De La Cruz hit the first of his doubles in the game to start the inning. Two outs later, Jake Holmes fisted a roller down the line past first for a run-scoring triple. Ben Pelletier’s infield hit scored Holmes to make it 2-0.
Coming off 13 hits on Friday, the Crawdads picked up the attack again early. They put two on with two outs in the first but stranded both. Pedro Gonzalez swatted his sixth home run of the season in the second to cut Hickory’s deficit in half.
The Crawdads seemed poised to tie or take the lead in the third against Jhordany Mezquita. Coming off Friday’s four-hit game, Jonathan Ornelas chopped a single over the head of the first baseman Holmes. Ornelas stole second and after Matt Whatley walked, he stole third as well. Curtis Terry struck out, but Sam Huff built a 3-0 advantage. However, Mezquita was able to get Huff to foul out to Holmes and Sherten Apostel to fly out to left.
That turned out to be the last hurrah for the Crawdads in the game. Mezquita pitched the four innings and Robinson Martinez turned threw a scoreless fifth before turning the ball over to Dominic Pipkin. The right-hander allowed just one walk over the final four innings and struck out four to pick up the scorer’s decision win. Pipkin improved to 1-1 on the season.
King allowed just the two runs over seven innings, which is his pro career high, as well as the team high for the season. The lefty surrendered nine hits without a walk and struck out four.
Lakewood added its final two runs against reliever Scott Engler in the eighth on a home run by Alec Bohm, his third of the year.