Remember being a little kid with your friends and you’d pick teams to play whatever sport was in season, and there was that one kid no one wanted on their team. And there’d be this long back-and-forth of, “I don’t want him, you take him.” The Hickory Crawdads and Greensboro Grasshoppers played nine innings of that game Tuesday night.
Greensboro had the final “you can take it” in the eighth and Hickory finally said, “okay” and went home with a 4-3 win in front of 1,382 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium. The victory wrapped up a 3-1 series win over the Grasshoppers and completed a 5-3 homestand, the longest of the season.
Unfortunately for Hickory, it did not make up ground on Delmarva (Md.), which defeated in-state rival Hagerstown 5-4 to move to 40-11, seven games ahead of the Crawdads in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. However, the Crawdads (33-18) moved within a game of Greensboro (34-17) for second place, which could have a bearing at the end of the season. If Delmarva goes on to win the first half – the Shorebirds now lead Greensboro by six games with 19 to play – and then takes the second half, as well, the team in the division with the next best record will take a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
Even by Low-A ball standards, this was an ugly one. On the books, Hickory walked seven, while Greensboro hit three batters and walked two. Combined, the teams – among the top offenses in the SAL – had just ten hits and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It took two errors in the eighth that literally gave the Crawdads the decisive run.
Facing Cole Winn, the Grasshoppers scored in the first. With two outs, Winn walked both Mason Martin and Rodolfo Castro. Crawdads killer Michael Gretler – he went 4-for-8 with four walks after entering Sunday’s game at .182/.250/.218 – singled in Martin to make it 1-0.
The Crawdads punched back with two-out firepower in the bottom of the inning. Greensboro starter Brad Case entered the game with only three home runs allowed over 55.2 innings. Curtis Terry and Sherten Apostel added two more to Case’s ledger after putting up back-to-back solo shots and Hickory then lead 2-1. Terry’s blast to left was his 12th of the season and Apostel hit his fourth.
The score remained 2-1 until the seventh, but both teams missed opportunities to add runs. In the top of the second, Winn walked two of the three he faced. However, the right-hander induced Zac Susi to hit into a double play. After Kyle Mottice walked to bring up Ji-Hwan Bae, rather than allow the leadoff hitter batting .320 to take cuts against a struggling pitcher, Mottice took off for second and was thrown out by catcher Matt Whatley.
It was Hickory’s turn to botch a rally in the third. Jonathan Ornelas was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on Miguel Aparicio’s lineout to right. With the infield playing in to cut off the run at third, Terry hit a ball to the second baseman Castro, playing on the shortstop side of the bag. Castro fields the ball, checks Ornelas twice at third. Seemingly daring Castro to throw to first so Ornelas could sprint home, Castro took the day and threw behind Ornelas to catch him returning to the bag.
Greensboro put seven runners on over four innings against Winn, but scored just the one in the first. Case retired ten in a row after hitting Ornelas before running into trouble in the sixth. With one out Case hit both Terry and Apostel before the Grasshoppers signaled for Will Gardner in relief. Gardner walked Melvin Novoa on four pitches to bring up Pedro Gonzalez. After talking the first pitch for a ball, Gonzalez hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Hickory soon regretted the missed opportunity when Greensboro tied the game in the seventh against reliever Scott Engler. With one out, Justin Harrer walked and moved to third on Brett Kinneman’s double. Susi’s fly ball to left scored Harrer to tie the game at 2.
Greensboro took the lead in the eight when Fabricio Macias lined a Grant Anderson pitch over the wall in left, his seventh of the season.
Hitless since the first, with one out the Crawdads got infield hits from both Miguel Aparicio and Terry. From there, the inning fell apart for the Grasshoppers. Novoa hit a routine fly to center for the second out. As the ball returned to the mound, the throw by Bae skips past the pitcher Conner Loeprich to the backstop. Alertly, while Greensboro argued as to whether it had called time, Terry and Apostel moved up to second and third.
It then got worse for the Grasshoppers. With Gonzalez at the plate, Loeprich bounced a pitch to the backstop. Terry scored on the wild pitch and when Susi’s throw to the plate zoomed past Loeprich (1-2) covering, Apostel sprinted all the way home for the go-ahead run.
Anderson (5-3) pitched a perfect ninth to close out the game.
After a day off Wednesday, the Crawdads return to action Thursday to start a four-game series at Kannapolis.
The Hickory Crawdads suffered major changes to their lineup over the past week. Yet on Thursday, the retooled group put together a steady performance for a 6-2 win over Asheville at L.P. Frans Stadium.
After losing their second in a row for the first time this year on Wednesday, Hickory (22-10) never trailed in evening the three-game series with its in-state, South Atlantic League rival. The Crawdads and Tourists (11-21) will finish off the series Friday night.
The victory also placed Hickory back in sole possession of second place after Greensboro (21-11) lost at Delmarva (Md.) on Thursday. However, because Delmarva (25-5) won, Hickory remained four games behind the Shorebirds in the Northern Division.
During the day on Thursday, the Crawdads received news on two of their top hitting prospects. Catcher Sam Huff, who leads the minors with 15 home runs, was promoted to High-A Down East.
Hickory also received word that shortstop Chris Seise will miss the remainder of the season after he will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Seise injured the shoulder during a play last Thursday in Greenville. The Crawdads are still without outfielder Miguel Aparicio who went to the injured list last week getting hit in the eye with a throw in Greenville (S.C.) last week.
With the changes at hand, the revamp lineup collected 11 hits on Thursday with all nine players getting at least one.
“We’ve had some pretty major subtractions to our roster lately,” said Crawdads manager Matt Hagen. “But, the saying is next man up. We still have a really good team. It’s actually going to give some guys more opportunities to blossom into the best version of themselves that they can possibly be.”
Scoreless after three, the Crawdads finally broke through against starter Shelby Lackey (1-3). With runners on the corners and none out, Tanner Gardner’s fielder’s choice scored Jonathan Ornelas, who singled to start the inning. Pedro Gonzalez reached on an infield hit, then he and Gardner advanced to second and third on a throwing error by Coco Montes at third. One out later, Jose Almonte doubled to the wall in left center to make it 3-0.
Hickory’s Ronny Henriquez was dominant in his start over four shutout innings. The 18-year-old struck out eight and gave up just two singles during his 54-pitch (38 strikes) outing.
“He’s shown that at times,” said Hagen. “But what he did tonight was the first time he’s shown that for a four-inning stint. Tonight, he was in control for all four.”
Particularly effective was the use of the slider by right-handed Henriquez against left-handed hitters. Henriquez set the tone right away by striking out the side in the first. All three outpitches were sliders in at the hands.
“Usually, from a right-handed guy,” Hagen said. “You want to see something that can equalize bats, and you think changeup. He’s slider was absolutely on tonight as the equalizer.”
Tai Tiedemann took over and after a scoreless inning, the Tourists struck back in the sixth. Kyle Datres walked and was joined on the bases by Cade Harris, who reached on a bunt single. A sacrifice moved both up before Grant Lavigne’s grounder to second brought in Datres. Harris later scored on a wild pitch.
However, the Crawdads rebounded quickly with three singles to start the sixth with Sherten Apostel’s single to center scoring Gardner.
Almonte’s second two-run double of the night added insurance runs in the eighth and accounted for the final margin.
Tiedemann (1-0) got the scorer’s decision win. Scott Engler struck out three over two scoreless innings for his third save.
Chad Smith rocked a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Hickory Crawdads a 5-4 win over the Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets Wednesday night in South Atlantic League action.
The victory was the Crawdads (14-5) second in a row, which gave them the three-game series after losing the opener on Monday. Hickory has now won all six series to open the season. The win also kept Hickory two games behind Delmarva (Md.) in the early Northern Division standings. The Shorebirds (15-2) defeated Asheville 15-7 Wednesday night.
The weeklong homestand continues Thursday when the Crawdads open a four-game series against Lakewood (N.J.) with the first pitch at 7 p.m.
The teams entered the ninth tied at four with Augusta getting the first shot to break the tie. Facing Grant Anderson (2-1), the GreenJackets started the inning with a walk issued to Shane Matheny. Anderson then struck out both Diego Rincones and Frankie Tostado, but Jacob Gonzalez appeared to have given the GreenJackets the lead with a line drive to deep left-center. Off with the crack of the bat, Matheny was on his way to score easily on the hit, but Gonzalez’s drive one-hopped over the wall, which turned the play into a ground-rule double and sent Matheny back to second. Aaron Bond ended the inning with a grounder to short.
Smith finished the game quickly in the bottom of the inning by hitting Solomon Bates’ (1-2) third pitch over the fence in right center. The home run was Smith’s second since he joined the team last Thursday.
Home runs continue to be the story for the Crawdads offense during the first month of the season. Entering the game with the most in the SAL, Hickory added four more Wednesday night to push the total to 26 for the season, 11 more than second-place teams Asheville and Greensboro.
Pedro Gonzalez broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer to left-center. Augusta retied the game quickly in the fifth with a double by Matheny and a single by Rincones.
However, the GreenJackets gave away the lead in the bottom of the inning after Chris Seise reached on Jacob Gonzalez’s fielding error at third and later scored on Curtis Terry’s double.
Pedro Gonzalez added his fifth homer of the season with another solo shot in the sixth to put Hickory up 3-1. However, the Crawdads bullpen struggles continued Wednesday, this time against Tai Tiedemann in the eighth.
Matheny continued his series long assault against Hickory with a leadoff home run, his fourth of the year. Matheny finished the series 6-for-12 with a double and two home runs. Rincones and Tostado each singled to chase Tiedemann with Hickory choosing to bring in Anderson.
A passed ball placed runners at second and third, which set up consecutive sacrifice flies by Gonzalez and Bond, who put Augusta ahead 4-3. The GreenJackets eventually loaded the bases before Ismael Munguia grounded out to third to strand all three.
For the game, Augusta put together 12 hits and received five walks, but hit into two double plays and stranded 11.
Sam Huff set up the ninth with his eighth home run of the season, which leads the SAL. The solo blast was his second in as many nights, both hitting the batter’s eye beyond the centerfield fence.
Hans Crouse – the Texas Rangers’ top prospect (mlb.com) – started for Hickory and held the GreenJackets to one run over six innings with three walks and six hits allowed to go with four strikeouts.
Joey Wong – the San Francisco Giants’ no. 7 prospect – allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits and struck out five.
Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants) (8-7, 2nd place, Southern Division)
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (12-4, 2nd place Northern Division)
The Hickory Crawdads start a seven-game homestand Monday with three against Augusta at L.P. Frans Stadium.
IF YOU PLAN TO GO:
WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.
GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:
Monday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Make-A Difference Monday (Bring canned goods $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket), Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)
Tuesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1), $2 craft pints, Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)
Wednesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Kids Win Wednesday (All kids 12 and under receive a free ticket, free meal voucher, and free bounce house, speed pitch and carousel voucher every Wednesday night game) Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge), Wine Wednesday
TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.
PARKING: All parking is $3.
RECENT SERIES HISTORY:
Hickory swept Augusta in a three-game series last June in the only series played by the two teams. The Crawdads have not played at Augusta since 2016 when they took two of three there. Since 2009, which is the start of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers, Augusta holds a 31-29 edge in games played, 19-15 at Hickory.
PROBABLES (Augusta/ Hickory)
Monday: RHP Blake Rivera vs. RHP Tim Brennan
Tuesday: RHP Matt Frisbee vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez
Wednesday: RHP Jake Wong vs. RHP Hans Crouse
Hickory took two out of three at Columbia (S.C.) over the weekend. During their first homestand, the Crawdads went 4-2 against Kannapolis and Asheville.
Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)
Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):
RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)
SS Chris Seise No. 12
IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18
C Sam Huff No. 21
3B Sherten Apostel No. 22
RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 20
Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; LF: Miguel Aparicio or Chad Smith; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.
Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 6th homers (3)
Sam Huff – 1st home runs (6), 1st total bases, 1st slugging pct. (.722), 3rd OPS (1.037), tied for 10th runs
Jonathan Ornelas – Tied for 10th runs
Chris Seise – tied for 8th steals (5)
Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (19), tied for 2nd homers (4), tied for 4th total bases, tied for 5th doubles (6), 7th slugging pct. (.569)
Matt Whatley – 4th walks
Hans Crouse – 2nd WHIP (0.35), tied for 3rd hit batters (3), 10th ERA (1.26)
Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 5th saves (2)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.229 (10th)/ .294 (13th)/ .416 (2nd)/ .710 (3rd).
Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 3rd runs, 3rd total bases, next to last walks,
1st ERA (2.18), 1st WHIP (0.97), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, tied for fewest home runs allowed (4), fewest walks allowed.
The GreenJackets completed their first homestand of the season on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Charleston (SC), but finished off the week at 4-2 overall. Because of The Masters in its backyard, Augusta had a nine-game road trip to start the year and managed a 4-5 record.
Manager: Carlos Valderrama (2nd season)
Prospects – Augusta (rankings by MLB.com):
RHP Sean Hjelle No. 6
RHP Jake Wong No. 7
RHP Gregory Santos No. 8
RHP Blake Rivera No. 18
3B Jacob Gonzalez No. 19
LHP Seth Corry No. 25
Possible Lineups: C: Andres Angulo or Jeffry Parra; 1B: Frankie Tostado; 2B: Shane Matheny or Wander Franco; 3B:Jacob Gonzalez; SS: Nico Giarratano or Shane Matheny; LF: Diego Rincones; CF: Jose Layer; RF: Aaron Bond.
Aaron Bond – 3rd strikeouts, tied for 8th steals (5)
Shane Matheny – 4th RBI (15)
Ismael Munguia – Tied for 7th runs
Frankie Tostado – 9th batting avg. (.327), 10th on-base pct. (.411), 10th OPS (.921)
Seth Corry – Tied for 6th walks
Sean Hjelle – 1st innings (19.2)
Jesus Tona – Tied for 1st saves (3)
Franklin Van Gurp – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)
Ryan Walker – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.234 (6th)/ .333 (4th)/ .346 7th)/.680 (6th)
Other key rankings: 2nd fewest strikeouts, tied for 2nd walks, 12th hits, 12th doubles,
4th fewest hits allowed, 7th ERA (3.35), 8th WHIP (1.29)
NOTES OF INTEREST: RHP Cole Uvila and OF Julio Pablo Martinez were both promoted to High-A Down East last week. RHP Ronny Henriquez, OF Chad Smith joined the club. Henriquez is the first person born in the 2000s to pitch for Hickory … According to MLB.com, should he get to the major leagues, Augusta’s Sean Hjelle would be equal to Jon Rauch as the tallest pitcher in major league history… Augusta’s Jacob Gonzalez is the son of Arizona Diamondbacks World Series hero Luis Gonzalez… Hickory’s Sean Chandler and Augusta’s Keaton Winn both pitched at Iowa Western CC and were drafted one round apart (Winn 5th, Chandler 6th) last summer… Augusta RHP Matt Frisbee is the lone player with a North Carolina connection, as he pitched at Enka High and UNC Greensboro.
It is always a special moment when former teammates from college or high school meet in pro ball for the first time as opponents. Knowing the foxholes that they both went through as teammates, there’s an extra level of respect that exists that is a notch above any other opponent. It’s an even deeper respect for former battery mates.
Kannapolis Intimidators pitcher Taylor Varnell experienced such a moment last Thursday when Hickory Crawdads Matt Whatley, his catcher from their days at Oral Roberts Univ., strolled to the plate to hit in the first inning. It was a moment that didn’t seem fated to happen when the Crawdads posted their lineup earlier that afternoon.
“I came into the clubhouse,” Whatley recalled. “And I didn’t see my name in the lineup. So, I go, ‘okay, I’ve got a day off.’ Then I see that Taylor’s pitching and I go, ‘Man, it’d be kind of fun to face him.’”
However, when a couple of Hickory players came down with minor ailments and were late scratches, Whatley was pressed into duty as the team’s designated hitter. Having already seen the lineup, Varnell, like Whatley, had thought his former ORU teammate was getting the day off.
“When he came walking up there,” said Varnell. “I was kind of surprised. It was hard not to smile a little bit at him.”
Seeing the moment at hand, Whatley tipped his helmet to the pitcher he caught for two seasons in college. “It was fun getting to face Taylor,” said Whatley with a smile. “The last time I got an at-bat off of him was my sophomore fall (season).”
During their time together at Oral Roberts, the two held a genuine respect for each other. In fact, Varnell, who pitched at Western Oklahoma State as a freshman before transferring to ORU, already knew about Whatley when he joined the team.
“From the first time I got on campus, I knew that he was going to be a high draft pick,” Varnell remembered. “I had heard all about him. He’s great behind the dish and a good hitter. I hadn’t seen him behind the plate yet, but he was crazy good back there.”
He credited Whatley, who eventually was the Texas Rangers third-round pick in 2017, for his strike-zone framing abilities, to which, as he said, “got me so many strikes that I wouldn’t have got otherwise.”
After his senior season, Varnell went on to become the 29th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox. Despite some ups-and-downs in his teammate’s career, Whatley thought the left-hander had the ability and would get a chance to go pro.
“It’s fun to see where he’s at from college until now,” said the Crawdads backstop. “He had the stuff, but he was a little inconsistent in college. Now, he’s way more consistent.”
Having thrown to Whatley for two seasons, as they faced each other last Thursday, Varnell knew that he would have to go about his approach to this hitter differently.
“It was kind of hard to attack him in the usual way,” said Varnell. “Because, he knows how I like to pitch. So, I tried to kind of mix it up a little bit.”
The mix of pitches got the better of Whatley in the first when Varnell struck him out. However, in the fourth, Whatley found a pitch he could handle. Unfortunately for Whatley, the line drive to the left side of the infield found the glove of third baseman Bryce Bush.
“It’s baseball,” said Whatley in reaction to the hard out. “Sometimes, you’re going to barrel some stuff up and not get some hits.”
Varnell agreed that Whatley got the better of him the second time.
“That’s a good play by my third baseman,” Varnell admitted. “That one was on me, he should’ve had the hit, honestly.”
In getting to the pros, both players gave credit to another Crawdads alum, Sean Snedeker, who was the pitching coach for Hickory in 1998 during the White Sox affiliation era and later went on to Duke and ORU.
“Sned is one of the best humans I know,” Whatley recalled. “He’s always wanting the best for both of us, but for everyone he’s ever coached. I couldn’t be more happy to have had Sean Snedeker as a pitching coach.”
Varnell said Snedeker, now the pitching coach at Lamar Univ. in Texas, was instrumental in getting his potential pro career on track.
“Going into college, I was a bit of a head case,” Varnell said. “I’d speed it up too fast in my head. He would help me out with the mental part, which is what I needed.”
Tim Brennan allowed just two baserunners over six shutout innings and shutdown the South Atlantic League’s top offensive to lead the Hickory Crawdads to a 2-0 win Monday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.
In winning the first of the three-game series, the Crawdads (9-2) remained in second place in the Northern Division a half-game behind the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds (9-1), who defeated Kannapolis at home on Monday. During the current homestand, Hickory is now 3-1 and will look to improve on that against Asheville on Tuesday as the series continues with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.
The Tourists entered Monday’s game with the league’s top numbers across the board (.282/.363/.493/ .856), but the starter Brennan had little trouble working his way through the lineup.
He retired the first 12 before surrendering a walk to current SAL hitter-of-the-week Willie MacIver to start the fifth. The lead runner was retired on successive fielder’s choices leaving Daniel Montano at first with two outs. He stole second second and moved to third on catcher Matt Whatley’s throwing error. However, Brennan got Coco Montes to fly to center to end the lone threat against him.
Hunter Stovall broke up Brennan’s fledgling no-hit bid in the sixth with a clean single to left to start the inning.
Brennan left the game after clearing the sixth on 73 pitches (46 strikes).
The right-hander was supported for his first professional win (1-0) in two starts by the offense, which gave him all he needed four batters into the game. Facing Ryan Feltner (0-2), J.P. Martinez drilled the righty’s second pitch to the leftfield wall for a double. He moved to third on Matt Whatley’s fly to the track in right for Curtis Terry ripped a double to right for the run.
Sam Huff hit a slider over the billboards in right for a solo blast in the sixth to account for the second run. His home run was the fourth of the season with ties him for the SAL and pushed his team’s league high to 14 on the year.
Asheville threatened to erase its deficit in the seventh against Abdiel Mendoza. Grant Lavigne singled and MacIver got his second walk of the game. Two outs later, Mendoza loaded the bases by walking Montes. However, Stovall flied out to shallow left to end the rally.
Scott Engler pitched two perfect innings for Hickory, striking out five of the six he faced to pick up his first pro save.
Game Notes: Cole Uvila was promoted to High-A Down East on Monday. The 40th-round pick of the Rangers last June (GA. Gwinnett) went 2-0 in three relief outings with ten strikeouts over seven innings. He allowed just three hits and one walk… The Crawdads now have three shutouts on the season and have seven games out of 11 with 0 or 1 run allowed.
(The following story is based on records I have at my disposal since 2005, as well as sporadic records kept by the Crawdads prior to that season. If others have further information, I welcome their inclusion here and will update.)
At Thursday’s home-opener win over Kannapolis, the Hickory Crawdads tied a club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The trio of Jake Latz (8), Tai Tiedemann (5) and Nick Snyder (4) struck out 17 hitters during a 4-1 win.
With that game in mind, I thought Crawdads fans might want a look back at some of the other big strikeout games in the team’s history.
Hickory first registered 17 Ks in a nine-inning game back on May 25, 2009 in a game at Hagerstown, Md, when a pair of future major leaguers turned the trick. Right-hander Jake Brigham twirled the first five innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight and allowing three hits. Martin Perez then came in and upstaged him. The 18-year-old left-hander, then one of the pitching prospects in the minors, struck out nine over four innings and finished off a seven-hit shutout in a 6-0 win.
The individual pitcher with the most strikeouts in a single game was right-hander Jason Lakman, who on July 31, 1997 struck out 16. During that contest, he became one of the few pitchers in baseball history to struck out five in one inning when he turned the trick in the fifth.
The all-time single-game record for the team in a came back in August 2000 as part of a game that set the South Atlantic League record for most combined strikeouts in a game. Asheville and Hickory played 20 innings that day and rang up 53 strikeouts. In what was a loss, the Crawdads pitchers set 23 down on strikes. Unfortunately, the Hickory hitters set the league’s record for most whiffs in a game when they fanned 30 times.
The Crawdads got close to catching that mark a couple of times. During a 17-inning affair on May 9, 2015, Brett Martin (4), Trey Lambert (2), Adam Parks (7), David Perez (6) and Kelvin Vasquez (3) combined to strikeout 22 against Savannah. Their chance to catch and break the club mark ended on Crawdads walk-off homer by Jose Cardona.
The Crawdads has two other extra-inning games during which they struck out 20 or more batters. In a home game on May 4, 2010 against Asheville. Two future major league pitchers were among a quartet of Crawdads hurlers that fanned 20 during a 13-inning game. Starter Joe Wieland (8) and closer Josh Lueke (5), both of whom would go onto the big leagues, collected 13 with Braden Tullis (5) and Hector Nelo (2) filling in for seven others.
The other 20+ strikeout contest came during a loss in 19 innings to Rome (Ga.) on May 15, 2016. Peter Fairbanks had a pedestrian four over six innings with Blake Bass added two more in the seventh and eighth. Reliever and future big leaguer Jeffrey Springs had five over three innings before Omarlin Lopez dominated the Braves with eight in five innings. Sitting at 19 after 16 innings, the club record was in reach. Matt Ball tallied just one more in the 17th and 18th innings. With the Crawdads out of fresh arms, position player Dylan Moore threw in the 19th and was not able to register a K.
The Hickory Crawdads showed resilience Saturday night and wound up with a 6-5 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators in front of 1,523 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium Saturday night.
With the win the Crawdads (8-2) have earned at least a split in the four-game series and look to take the series outright tomorrow with a first pitch at 3 p.m. Kannapolis (4-5) has now dropped four of five.
Kannapolis scored an unearned run in the second, but the Crawdads used their powerful lineup to pull ahead.
Pedro Gonzalez continued his assault on Kannapolis pitching during his stay with the Crawdads with a solo home run in the third. In hitting his third against Kannapolis in as many games, Gonzalez has eight home runs, five doubles and 19 RBI in 19 games over the last two seasons against the Intimidators.
The two starters battled through six innings and left with the score tied at one. Hickory’s John King allowed six hits and struck out four to go with the unearned run. Konnor Pilkington allowed just two baserunners over six innings, chipping in a walk to go with Gonzalez’s homer and striking out eight.
Against the new pitcher Vince Arobio, the Crawdads jumpstarted things briefly in the seventh. The jolt started when Curtis Terry hit his third of the season, a two-run blast that was his second in two games. Sherten Apostel followed with a line drive over the fence in left for his first of the year. It as the third straight game Hickory launched back-to-back homers. Hickory leads the South Atlantic League with 13 homers.
However, things fell apart for the Crawdads in the ninth and for the second night in a row, the team’s only walk of the game cost them. Facing reliever Grant Wolfram, Amado Nunez reached on an error at third by Apostel and was joined one out later by a Gunnar Troutwine, who walked. Luis Curbelo then took a fastball away and lifted it over the fence in right to tie the game at 4-4.
Curbelo’s home run was the first for Kannapolis, as well as the first surrendered by Hickory.
The Crawdads had a chance to put the game away in the ninth after putting runners at second and third after an error by third baseman Bryce Bush kept the inning alive. But Bennett Sousa got Sam Huff on a grounder to short to extend the game.
Lenyn Sosa’s sacrifice fly scored Ian Hawkins to give Kannapolis the lead in the tenth. Hickory put runners at second and third and none out. Sousa struck out Jonathan Ornelas before the Intimidators cut down a runner at the plate on a grounder to first. However. Chris Seise got enough on an 0-2 pitch to reach on an infield hit to short and score Gonzalez from third.
Cole Uvila (2-0) struck out two in the 11th to reset the Crawdads at plate. With Matt Whatley at second to start the inning, Curtis Terry steered an 0-2 slider past the bag at third for the walk-off double.
The Kannapolis Intimidators picked up a pair of runs in the ninth and defeated the Hickory Crawdads 6-4 Friday night in front of 2,121 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The Intimidators (4-4) win snapped their three-game losing streaks and also ended the four-game winning streak by Hickory, which dropped to 7-2.
With the score tied at 4-all after eight, the Intimidators got the winning started with one out in the ninth against reliever Grant Anderson (0-1). Alex Destino picked up his team’s only walk of the game and was joined next on the bases by Ramon Beltre, who singled. Ian Dawkins (3-for-5) lined an offspeed pitch for a ground-rule double to left-center to score Destino. Steele Walker added an insurance run with his second sacrifice fly of the night to score Beltre.
Kannapolis never trailed in the game after score the first four in the second against starter Jean Casanova. Michael Hickman singled, as did Destino one out later. The hit parade continued with Beltre’s RBI single before Dawkins sneaked in a bloop single to left to score a run. Walker’s initial sacrifice fly made it 3-0 before Lenyn Sosa capped the uprising with a hard-hit single to right to score Dawkins.
The Crawdads used the long ball to chip away at the lead. Facing starter Davis Martin, Curtis Terry lined a two-run shot in the third to cut the Crawdads deficit in half. Hickory tied the score after the seventh-inning stretch when Pedro Gonzalez and Jonathan Ornelas (3-for-4) lined the first two pitches of the inning for back-to-back home runs. The three home runs on Friday gave the Crawdads the South Atlantic League lead with ten.
Hickory had a chance to take the lead in the eighth against Sam Long (1-0). Jose Almonte reached base to lead off the inning when Destino’s throw from third skipped away. Almonte moved to second with two outs, but Long struck out Sam Huff to end the threat.
The Crawdads got four strong innings of middle relief that allowed the hitters to get the team back into the game. Hever Bueno allowed one hit and struck out three over two innings of work. Dylan Bice nearly matched his pen mate with two Ks and one hit allowed over the seventh and eighth innings.
However, the Intimidators’ bullpen allowed just Almonte to reach over the final 2.2 innings and struck out three. Long fanned one before closer Wilber Perez retired the side in the ninth and K’d two more to earn his second save.
The series continues with game three of the four-game series with the first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.
Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (3-3, 3rd Northern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (6-1, 1st Northern Division)
The Hickory Crawdads open a seven-game homestand Thursday, starting with a four-game series with Kannapolis.
IF YOU PLAN TO GO:
WHERE IS IT?: Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.
GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:
Thursday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday, Duke Lineman Appreciation Night (Free tickets available at Duke Power Linemen), Magnet Schedules giveaway, Black out (Wear black and receive a $6 ticket))
Friday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Fireworks, Roaring 20s Night)
Saturday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Texas Rangers Night, Post Schedule giveaway)
Sunday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 3 p.m. (Church Bulletin Sunday (bring a bulletin for a $6 ticket))
TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.
PARKING: All parking is $3.
RECENT SERIES HISTORY:
The Crawdads won the 2018 season series 14-9 with an 11-3 margin in games played at L.P. Frans Stadium. Hickory has dominated the series with just one season-series loss (2010) against the Intimidators since becoming a Rangers affiliate in 2009. Overall, the Crawdads are 110-72 against the Intimidators, 56-34 at L.P. Frans.
PROBABLES (Kannapolis/ Hickory)
Thursday: LHP Taylor Varnell vs. LHP Jake Latz
Friday: RHP Davis Martin vs. RHP Jean Casanova
Saturday: LHP Konnor Pilkington vs. LHP John King
Sunday: RHP Kade McClure vs. RHP Tim Brennan
The Crawdads had a 6-1 road trip to open the season, which ended with a three-game sweep at Greensboro. They are trying to match a 7-1 start by the 2016 team.
Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)
Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):
RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)
OF JP Martinez No. 2 (No. 86 in top-100)
SS Chris Seise No. 12
IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18
C Sam Huff No. 21
3B Sherten Apostel No. 22
Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Pedro Gonzalez or Miguel Aparicio; CF: JP Martinez, RF: Jose Almonte.
Individual Batting: Batting average: Chris Seise 7th (.400), Sam Huff (10th) .385; On-base pct: Seise 8th (.464); Slugging pct: Huff 2nd (.731), Jose Almonte 6th (.667), Seise 9th (.640); OPS Huff 5th (1.115), Seise 8th (1.104); Runs: Seise T-1st (8), Jonathan Ornelas 3rd (7); JP Martinez T-4th (6); Huff T-8th (5); Hits: Huff T-3rd (10); Seise T-3rd (10); Martinez T-9th (8); Doubles: Almonte T-3rd (4); Seise T-3rd (4); Huff T-6th (3); Curtis T-6th (3); RBI: Terry 1st (9); Almonte T-8th (6); Total Bases: Huff 2nd (19); Seise 5th (16); Almonte T-7th (14); Walks: Sherten Apostel T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st (4); Martinez T-4th (3).
Individual pitching: ERA: Hans Crouse T-1st (0.00); WHIP: Crouse 1st (0.26); Saves: Abdiel Mendoza T-1st (2)
Team Batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.272 (2nd)/ .347 (2nd)/ .433 (2nd)/ .780 (2nd). Other key rankings: Runs 2nd, Hits 2nd, Doubles 2nd, Home Runs T-3rd, Total Bases 2nd (100), Stolen bases 1st (12).
Team Pitching: ERA 1st (1.48), 3rd fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest home runs allowed (0), fewest walks allowed, strikeouts 2nd, WHIP (0.87).
The Intimadators split a six-game homestand, which ended with two losses to Delmarva (Md.) during a rain-shortened series.
Manager: Ryan Newman (1st season)
Prospects – Kannapolis (rankings by MLB.com):
CF Steele Walker No. 11
LHP Konnor Pilkington No. 20
3B Bryce Bush No. 21
RHP Jonathan Stiever No. 27
Possible lineups: C: Evan Skoug or Gunnar Troutwine; 1B: Amado Nunez; 2B: Luis Curbelo or Lenyn Sosa; SS: Sosa or Curbelo; LF: Ian Dawkins; CF: Steele Walker; RF: Logan Sowers
Individual Batting: Batting average: Evan Skoug 1st (.429); On-base pct: Skoug 1st .579; Slugging pct: Skoug 8th (.643); OPS: Skoug 2nd (1.222); Hits: Lenyn Sosa T-6th (9); Doubles: Luis Curbelo T-6th (3). Sosa T-6th (3); Walks: Skoug T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st Ian Dawkins 1st (4).
Individual pitching: WHIP: Tyler Varnell 2nd (0.33); Konnor Pilkington T-10th (0.71)
Team batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .244 (5th)/ .310 (7th)/ .337 (6th)/ .647 (7th). Other key rankings: Runs 13th, Doubles 4th, HR T-12th (0), Walks T-12th, Strikeouts 12th.
Team pitching: HRs allowed 2nd (7), hit batters 3rd (5), fewest walks allowed T-3rd, WHIP 5th (1.16).
NOTES OF INTEREST: Kannapolis manager Ryan Newman played for Hickory in 2003 and was the team’s hitting coach in 2007… Crawdads catcher Matt Whatley and Kannapolis pitcher Taylor Varnell were teammates at Oral Roberts Univ. Both played under former Crawdads pitching coach Sean Snedeker.