Results tagged ‘ Asheville Tourists ’
Defensive miscues and lapses played a big role Friday night in the Hickory Crawdads 5-3 South Atlantic League loss to the Asheville Tourists at L.P. Frans Stadium.
A crowd of 2,999 saw the Crawdads (22-11) drop the final game of a three-game series and, in turn, lose their first series of the season. The Crawdads had won seven and tied two others prior to the series with the Tourists, which improved to 11-22 with the win. Hickory did not lose any ground to first-place Delmarva (Md.) in the Northern Division, but did fall back into a tie for second with Greensboro after its win over the Shorebirds. Both Hickory and Greensboro are four games behind Delmarva.
Hickory entered play Friday as the second-best fielding team in the South Atlantic League with 27 errors committed in 32 games. The Crawdads showed their defensive skills early on in support of starter Grant Wolfram.
Luke Morgan and Grant Lavigne hit back-to-back doubles in the first, but centerfielder Miguel Aparicio was able to field a carom of the wall on Lavigne’s double and quickly relay the ball to the infield to hold Morgan at third and save a run.
In the second, Frainyer Chavez ranged far to his left to make a sliding grab of a roller in the outfield grass and throw out Daniel Montano at first.
Curtis Terry started the Hickory offense with his seventh home run of the season in the third. But the defense played a role in allowing the Tourists to get even in the fourth.
After Lavigne singled, Willie MacIver reached when third baseman Sherten Apostel mishandled a double-play grounder at third. The Crawdads got a brief reprieve when Johnny Cresto lined into a double play. However, Montano doubled in MacIver, who circled around from first to make it 1-1.
The Tourists scored twice in the fifth to take the lead. With one out, Javier Guevara walked and Will Golson lined a single to right. On the play, Jose Almonte allowed the ball to get by and roll to the wall. His error allowed Guevara to score and moved Golson to third from were he came in on Terrin Vavra’s sacrifice fly.
Hickory got even in the sixth with the help of control issues by reliever Mike Nikorak. Jonathan Ornelas started the inning with a double and strolled home on Curtis Terry’s single. Nikorak walked the bases loaded, then hit Aparicio to force in a run and tie the score at three.
Crawdads reliever Nick Snyder had his best outing of the season in relief. Picking up for Wolfram in the fifth, Snyder retired all seven he faced and struck out four through the seventh.
However, the game fell apart for Hickory in the eighth with Grant Anderson (3-3) on the mound. Vavra doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a wild pitch. Morgan battled through a 14-pitch at-bat to earn a walk, then stole second. Anderson struck out Lavigne, but after Morgan stole second the Crawdads opted to intentionally walk MacIver to load the bases. The next hitter, Cresto, hit a slow grounder to Chavez at second. The runner, MacIver, stopped en route to second, which prompted Chavez to get the sure out at first. Vavra scored on the play and when MacIver extended the rundown, Morgan also scored from second for what turned out to be the final margin.
Derrik Watson worked out of Nikorak’s jam in the sixth, then got out of a mess of his own making to strand two in the seventh for the win (1-0).
Raymells Rosa pitched a scoreless eighth and Alexander Martinez threw a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season.
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.
Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) (10-20, sixth place, South Atlantic League Southern Division)
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (21-9, second place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)
The Hickory Crawdads return to L.P. Frans Stadium Wednesday through Monday and start the homestand with a three-game series against in-state Asheville.
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:
Wednesday: Asheville 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) Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Wine Wednesday
Thursday: Asheville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Thirsty Thursday, Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Napoleon Dynamite Night (Dress as a Napoleon Dynamite character and receive a ticket for $6).
Friday: Asheville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m. Postgame Fireworks, Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Dodgeball Night (Dress up as an Average Joe or a Purple Cobra and receive 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 took two out of three against Asheville during a series played at L.P. Frans in April. Since 2009 and the start of the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation, Hickory is 51-48 vs. Asheville, but the Tourists hold a 27-24 margin at L.P. Frans.
PROBABLES (Asheville/ Hickory)
Wednesday: LHP Nick Bush vs. RHP Hans Crouse
Thursday: RHP Shelby Lackey vs. RHP Ronny Henriquez
Friday: LHP Colton Schmidt vs. LHP Grant Wolfram
The Crawdads split a four-game series at Kannapolis to complete a 5-2 road trip. Hickory has played nine series so far this season and have won seven of them and split the other two. After losing the final game at Kannapolis on Monday, the Crawdads will try to avoid their first back-to-back loses of the year on Wednesday. Hickory is 8-5 at home.
Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)
Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):
RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)
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 (.163/.330/.209) or Sam Huff (.317/.355/.769); 1B Curtis Terry (.257/.308/.560); 2B Frainyer Chavez (.260/.349/.274); 3B Sherten Apostel (.163/.245/.239); SS Jonathan Ornelas (.345/.421/.500); OF LF: Tanner Gardner (.143/.200/.429); CF: Pedro Gonzalez (.233/.310/.500); RF: Jose Almonte (.163/.213/.279)
Pedro Gonzalez – 4th homers (7)
Sam Huff – 1st home runs (14), 1st RBI (27), 1st total bases, 1st slugging pct. (.769), 1st OPS (1.124), tied for 3rd runs, tied for 5th hits, tied for 10th strikeouts
Jonathan Ornelas – 4th batting avg. (.345), 8th OBP (.421), 10th OPS (.921).
Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (15), tied for 2nd RBI (26), 5th total bases, tied for 5th home runs (6), 7th slugging pct. (.560)
Matt Whatley – Tied for 2nd walks, tied for 6th stolen bases (10)
Tim Brennan – 3rd WHIP (0.73)
Hans Crouse – 10th WHIP (0.86)
Yerry Rodriguez – 5th ERA (1.38)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.234 (6th)/ .305 (12th)/ .412 (2nd)/ .717 (4th).
Other key rankings: 2nd home runs, 2nd stolen bases, 3rd total bases, 4th runs, 4th strikeouts, 1th doubles, 11th walks,
1st ERA (2.75), 2nd WHIP (1.11), fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest walks allowed, fewest hit batters, 11th home runs allowed (17),
WHO’S HOT (Last 10 games)
Hitting: Sam Huff (5 HRs, 14 RBI, .289/.357/.711/.1.068); Pedro Gonzalez (.323/.432/.581/.1.013); Jonathan Ornelas (5 SBs, .395/.452/.500/.952); Frainyer Chavez (5 SBs, .387/.472/.387/.859)
Pitching: Grant Anderson (4 games, 2 saves, 4 IP, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB, OBA .143, WHIP 0.75); Dylan Bice (3 games 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
WHO’S NOT (Last 10 games)
Hitting: Sherten Apostel (6-for-37, 12 K, .162/.200/.200); Jose Almonte (5-for-35, 10 K .161/.235/.194)
The Tourists won the first two of a homestand but lost the last five, including a four-game sweep to Delmarva (Md.). Asheville is 3-11 on the road.
Manager: Robinson Cancel (1st year)
Prospects – Asheville (rankings by MLB.com):
1B Grant Lavigne No. 4
RHP Riley Pint No. 7
SS Terrin Vavra No. 13
OF Daniel Montano No. 18
RHP Ryan Feltner No. 23
C Willie MacIver No. 27
RHP Mike Nikorak No. 28
Possible Lineups: C: Javier Guevara (.204/.218/.259) or Willie MacIver (.287/.357/.535); 1B Grant Lavigne (.247/.388/.376); 2B Coco Montes (.230/.301/.290); 3B: John Cresto (.310/.364/.521); SS: Terrin Vavra (.327/.423/.515); LF: Will Golsan (.218/.304/.376); CF: Daniel Montano (.267/.324/.386); RF: Cade Harris (.200/.412/.360).
John Cresto – Tied for 7th doubles (9)
Cade Harris – Tied for 6th walks
Grant Lavigne – 1st walks
Willie McIver – Tied for 6th RBI (20), tied for 9th total bases, 10th slugging pct. (.535), tied for 10th homers (5)
Terrin Vavra – Tied for third caught stealing (4), 4th walks, 5th runs scored, tied for 5th hits, 7th OBP (.423), 9th batting avg. (.327), 9th OPS (.938).
Jake Bird – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 3rd hit batters,
Nick Bush – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 10th runs allowed, tied for 10th earned runs allowed,
Ryan Feltner – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, 5th hits allowed
Alfredo Garcia – 1st runs allowed, 1st earned runs allowed, tied for 3rd hits allowed, tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 7th hit batters
Nick Kennedy – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12)
Boby Johnson – Tied for 8th games pitched (11)
Shelby Lackey – Tied for 3rd home runs allowed, tied for 10th runs allowed
Alex Martinez – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 3rd saves (4)
Mike Nikorak – Tied for 3rd games pitched (12), tied for 8th walks
Riley Pint – Tied for 2nd walks allowed
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .252 (2nd)/ .343 (2nd)/ .399 (3rd)/ .742 (1st).
Other key rankings: 1st doubles, 1st walks, 3rd hits, 3rd fewest strikeouts, 3rd stolen bases, 3rd caught stealing, 4th total bases, 5th runs,
Last ERA (5.59), Last WHIP (1.52), 1st runs allowed, 1st earned runs allowed, 1st home runs allowed, 2nd hits allowed, 2nd walks allowed, 3rd hit batters, 13th strikes,
NOTES OF INTEREST: Crawdads SS Chris Seise, OFs Miguel Aparicio and Chad Smith, pitchers Jean Casanova and Hever Bueno are on the injured list. Added to the roster are Tanner Gardner and Tyler Depreta-Johnson.
When Hickory Crawdads pitcher Tim Brennan made his last start a week ago, he faced the South Atlantic League’s best offense in the Asheville Tourists. Entering that three-games series against Hickory, the Tourists had the top mark in the SAL in all three slash statistical categories (batting avg., on-base pct., and slugging), and were second in home runs. Asheville also had the reigning SAL hitter of the week in Willie MacIver.
Making just his second pro start, it didn’t appear that Brennan, the Texas Rangers’ seventh-round pick last June out of St. Joseph’s, would be a good matchup against the powerful Tourists lineup. And it certainly wasn’t – for the Tourists.
Brennan retired the first 12 hitters and held the Tourists hitless through five on the way to a 2-0 win last Monday.
Entering the start, the right-hander said the plan was to use the aggressive nature of the Tourists lineup against them.
“I like when teams swing early,” said Brennan, who gave up one walk, one hit and struck out three for the win. “I want to get ahead, and I’m just going to try and miss barrels. I think I had 16 out of 20 batters with four pitches or less last night, which is exactly what I’m looking for to go deep into games.”
Compared to much of the Crawdads staff, Brennan, 22, doesn’t have the eye-popping velocity that catches the eye. The right-hander’s sinking fastball zips around 87-89 mph, which is relatively pedestrian to several other Crawdads pitchers that hit the gun regularly from 95-99. Brennan, who throws a slider and changeup as his secondaries, is comfortable with who he is.
“I know what I have and I know how it plays,” said the native of Philadelphia. “I’ve studied guys that throw similarly. I’ve watched a lot of Kyle Hendricks with the Cubs…I’ve had the same stuff since college and obviously my stuff has gotten a little better and I’ve tinkered with things. But, I’ve thrown the same way for the last four or five years and I’m comfortable with it. Now, I’m just trying to master it.”
After his selection last June, with a cold, college season at St. Joseph’s behind him and a touch of shoulder inflammation, Brennan sat out the summer before throwing some at instructionals last fall. He finally got his first official action in a start at Greensboro on April 9, when he allowed a run on three hits, with one walk and two strikeouts.
Along with getting his shoulder ready for this season, he prepared for his season and that first start by getting some advice from other pro pitchers. The advice he got mirrored that of the trust he has in his stuff – to be who he is.
“The biggest advice I got was to have fun and be yourself,” said Brennan. “If you try to do too much and be somebody you’re not, then you’re not going to be as effective. Go with what you’ve got and go out there and own it. That’s what I try to do.”
Along with understanding what he has and using it to his advantage, Brennan thinks his style of pitching is advantage in the bigger picture of a game, when the high-velocity arms of the bullpen enter.
“The chances are the guys in our bullpen are going to be completely different,” Brennan explained. “There’s going to be different arm slots and 95-plus. Our bullpen has been absolutely electric this year. The goal is to get through the lineup three times, be winning the game and then turn it over to them, and then, we’re probably going to win.”
Looking at the rest of this season, Brennan, who says he manipulates his slider at times to give it the appearance of a curveball, wants to develop a fastball that stays up in the zone.
“With throwing all sinkers in college,” said Brennan. “I didn’t try and go up at all. Now, it’s just go up to get them off my fastball down and my offspeed. I’m getting more and more comfortable with it and I think that’ll be a big weapon for me down the road.”
Asheville has a lineup with plenty of firepower, but on Tuesday it was the Tourists pitching backed by key defensive plays that was the difference in a 2-0 win over Hickory at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The Tourists (6-7) have now earned a split over the first two of the three-game series after the teams have now traded 2-0 wins. Hickory (9-3) will host the finale Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. before embarking on a three-game trip to Columbia, S.C.
The series was to have featured the top two South Atlantic League lineups. However, the teams have combined for four runs and 19 hits combined over the 18 innings played. In fact, the Crawdads have struggled at the plate during the current homestand. They entered Tuesday’s game at a .203/.254/.451 line during the first four games played at Frans this year. Tourists left-hander Ryan Rolison added to that misery with a stellar performance.
Rolison, the Colorado Rockies’ first-round pick in last June’s first-year player draft, held the Crawdads without a baserunner through the first five innings. With only one three-ball count in the game, Rolison (2-1) constantly had the Crawdads guessing at which of the four pitches at his disposal that he would use. Pounding the strike zone, he struck out seven – five in a row at one stretch – with 46 strikes out of 62 pitches.
The Tourists gave Rolison all he needed with a run in the third against starter Yerry Rodriguez (1-1). The Crawdads hurler retired the first two batters, but Cade Harris extended the inning with a single to right. On successive pitches, Will Golsan singled and Rodriguez hit Hunter Stovall with a pitch to load the bases. The wild streak continued when Rodriguez walked Terrin Vavra to force in a run.
The Crawdads bats finally came to life in the sixth, when with one out Jonathan Ornelas grounded a single up the middle just past the dive of Vavra at short. Frainyer Chavez reached when he was able to line a bunt past Rolison on the first base side of the mound and outrace him to the bag. However, the Tourists escaped damage when a sharp line drive hit by J.P. Martinez was caught by first baseman Grant Lavigne, who then easily doubled up Chavez at first to end the inning.
Harris walked and later scored on a double-play ball to add an insurance run in the eighth.
However, the Crawdads appeared to be on the verge of at least cutting the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and nobody on, Miguel Aparicio doubled. A fielding blunder then kept the rally alive, as Ornelas hit a high chopper up the third-base line. The ball appeared to be curling foul, but pitcher Frederis Parra picked the ball up just inside the line to give Ornelas a single and put Aparicio at third. Chavez followed with a bouncer up the middle that tipped off the pitcher’s glove. The second baseman Stovall made a lunging stop of the ball. While remaining stretched out, he fired a strike to first to retire Chavez and end the inning.
Alexander Martin closed out the game by striking out the side in the ninth for his second save of the season.
Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) (5-6, tied for second, Southern Division)
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (8-2, 2nd Northern Division)
The Hickory Crawdads continue their season-opening homestand with a three-game series against Asheville.
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:
Monday: Asheville at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Make-A Difference Monday (Bring canned goods $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket), Remember the Titanic)
Tuesday: Asheville at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1))
Wednesday: Asheville at Hickory, 10:30 p.m.
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:
Despite being only an hour apart, the Crawdads and Tourists played just one series in 2018. The Crawdads took 2 of 3 in that series played at McCormick Park in Asheville.
The last series between the two clubs at L.P. Frans came in July 2017 when Asheville swept all three games. That year, the Tourists won 8 of 10 from the Crawdads, which included a 6-1 record at Hickory. It was the first season-series win by Asheville since 2010. Since 2009 and the start of the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation, Hickory is 49-47 vs. Asheville, but the Tourists hold a 26-22 margin at L.P. Frans.
PROBABLES (Asheville/ Hickory)
Monday: RHP Ryan Feltner vs. RHP Tim Brennan
Tuesday: LHP Ryan Rolison vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez
Wednesday: RHP Shelby Lackey vs. RHP Hans Crouse
Coming off a 6-1 road trip to open the season, the Crawdads continued the early-season success at home with a 2-1 series win over Kannapolis.
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.
Jose Almonte – Tied for 8th doubles (4)
Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 2nd homers (3)
Sam Huff – Tied for 2nd homers (3), 4th total bases, tied for 4th strikeouts, tied for 8th runs scored, 10th slugging pct. (.605)
JP Martinez – Tied for 5th steals (4)
Jonathan Ornelas – Tied for 4th runs scored
Chris Seise – Tied for 3rd hits, tied for 4th runs scored, tied for 5th steals (4), tied for 8th doubles (4)
Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (14), 2nd slugging pct. (.703), 2nd total bases, tied for 2nd homers (3), 4th OPS (1.078), tied for 4th doubles (5), tied for 7th hits
John King – Tied for 4th hits allowed
Jake Latz – Tied for 8th strikeouts, tied for 10th ERA (0.90)
Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 1st saves (2)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.249 (3rd)/ .318 (6th)/ .441 (2nd)/ .760 (2nd).
Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 2nd runs, 2nd home runs, 3rd hits, 3rd stolen bases, tied for 3rd doubles, 10th walks
Team Pitching: 1st ERA (1.90), 1st WHIP (0.91), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, tied for fewest home runs allowed (1), fewest walks allowed, 4th strikeouts.
The Tourists come to Hickory with losses in four of the last five games. This is the second half of their road trip after losing 3 of 4 at Hagerstown, Md. Five of the Rockies top six draft picks from last June’s draft are currently with the Tourists. They include Ryan Rolison (1st), Grant Lavigne (Competitive Balance), Terrin Vavra (3rd), Ryan Feltner (4th)
Manager: Robinson Cancel (1st year)
Prospects – Asheville (rankings by MLB.com):
1B Grant Lavigne No. 5
LHP Ryan Rolison No. 6
RHP Riley Pint No. 8
SS Terrin Vavra No. 14
OF Daniel Montano No. 19
RHP Ryan Feltner No. 24
C Willie MacIver No. 28
RHP Mike Nikorak No. 29
Possible Lineups: C: Javier Guevara or Willie MacIver; 1B Grant Lavigne; 2B Coco Montes or Terrin Vavra; 3B: John Cresto or Hunter Stovall; SS: Coco Montes or Terrin Vavra; LF: Will Golsan; CF: Daniel Montano; RF: Cade Harris.
John Cresto – Tied for 4th doubles (5), 7th slugging pct. (.621), 10th OPS (.987)
Will Golsan – Tied for 2nd runs scored, 4th RBI (10), tied for 7th total bases
Cade Harris – Tied for 8th walks
Daniel Lavigne – Tied for 4th strikeouts
Willie MacIver – 1st slugging pct. (.824), 1st OPS (1.229), 1st total bases, tied for 2nd homers (3), 3rd batting avg. (.382), 3rd RBI (11), tied for 3rd hits, tied for 8th doubles (4)
Daniel Montano – Tied for 8th home runs (2), tied for 10th total bases
Hunter Stovall – Tied for 2nd doubles (6), 3rd on-base pct. (.471), 8th batting avg. (.357), 8th OPS (1.042)
Terrin Vavra – Tied for 3rd hits, tied for 4th runs scored, 5th on-base pct. (.455), tied for 5th RBI, (9), 6th total bases, 7th batting avg. (.361), 7th OPS (1.066), tied for 8th doubles (4), tied for 8th walks, 9th slugging pct. (.611), tied for 9th steals (3)
Jake Bird – Tied for 5th games pitched (4), 8th ERA (0.82), tied for 9th innings pitched (11)
Nick Bush – Tied for 2nd home runs allowed, tied for 4th runs allowed, 5th earned runs, tied for 6th hits allowed
Alfredo Garcia – Tied for 10th earned runs allowed
Eric Hepple – Tied for 1st games pitched (6)
Boby Johnson – Tied for 2nd home runs allowed, tied for 5th games pitched (4)
Shelby Lackey – 6th earned runs allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed
Nick Kennedy – 4th ERA (0.00), Tied for 5th games pitched (4), 10th WHIP (0.78)
Alex Martinez – Tied for 5th games pitched (4)
Mike Nikorak – Tied for 3rd games pitched (5), tied for 5th walks allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed
Ryan Feltner – Tied for 5th walks allowed
Riley Pint – Tied for 5th walks allowed
PJ Poulin – Tied for 3rd games pitched (5)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.282 (1st)/ .363 (1st)/ .493 (1st)/ .856 (1st).
Other key rankings: 1st runs, 1st hits, 1st doubles, 1st total bases, 1st walks, 2nd home runs, tied for 2nd strikeouts
2nd runs allowed, 2nd home runs allowed, 2nd most walks allowed, 3rd runs allowed, 12th WHIP (1.45), Last ERA (5.32), tied for last strikeouts
NOTES OF INTEREST: Pedro Gonzalez was a member of the Rockies organization prior to a trade to the Rangers in 2017… Rockies IF Kyle Datres played college ball at North Carolina.
Hickory reached the 50th game of the season and a familiar theme through the first 49 played out again on Sunday afternoon.
The Asheville Tourists built a big lead early and the held on to an 8-6 win Sunday afternoon at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The Tourists (21-27) took three out of four in the series and sent the Crawdads (19-31) to their seventh loss in eight games and the eighth out of ten.
Two in the first, one in the third, four in the fourth nearly put the game out of reach for the Tourists, though the Crawdads did make it interesting in the middle innings.
With Jonathan Hernandez – the reigning South Atlantic League’s pitcher of the month – on the mound for the Crawdads, Manny Melendez led off the game with a single to center. One out later, Colton Welker (4-for-5) sliced a liner just on the line in right for a run-scoring double. After Willie Abreu popped out, Max George hit a long fly ball to the warning track in center. Leody Taveras tracked the ball, but was never able to get his body square for the catch and it fell in for a triple.
Alex Kowalczyk (3-for-4) took a dead-fish fastball from Ty Culbreth and sent it in orbit over the fence in left-center to cut the Crawdads deficit in half. However, Abreu slapped a Hernandez changeup off the billboards in right to reclaim the original two-run lead for the Tourists.
What turned out to be the difference in the game was the fourth inning. Carlos Herrera tripled and scored on Eric Toole’s squeeze bunt. The inning fell apart with two outs in the ninth when Campbell Wear, the Tourists’ backup catcher, who entered the game hitting .067, walked. From there, Wear stole second and scored on Melendez’s single. Jose Gomez doubled, Welker lined a single to left and it was now 7-1.
With rain falling beyond centerfield – but not in the ballpark – Hickory got back into the game with three in the fourth. Taveras walked and Kowalczyk singled. A fly ball to right advanced Taveras to third and he scored on Carlos Garay’s sac fly. Jose Almonte made the game interesting with a two-run homer to left-center to make it 7-4.
In need of a shutdown inning, it didn’t happen in the fifth. George doubled, moved to third on a Hernandez wild pitch and scored when SS Anderson Tejeda – playing in to try and keep the runner at third from scoring – fielded a groundball hit by Joel Diaz, then double pumped the throw home, which was enough to allow George to slide around the tag of Kowalczyk and score.
The Crawdads got within 8-6 in the seventh when Tejeda doubled and one out later scored on Leody Taveras’s single up the middle. Ti’Quan Forbes walked to put the tying run on, but Asheville brought in Julian Fernandez to finish the inning. He did so emphatically (up to 100 mph!) with a strikeout of Garay.
That turned out to be the game. Fernandez breezed through the eighth to earn the scorer’s-decision win. J.D. Hammer struck out two in the ninth to work around a one-out single and earn his third save of the series, the fifth overall.
(The following is my own observation. I could be WAAAAAY off base, but this is what I saw. There are smarter people than me that may say this is all bunk.)
Today was the first time I’d seen Hernandez pitch since he started a stretch of four, strong starts that eventually led to a one-hitter over seven innings vs. Greensboro. The thing I noticed was the windup seemed to be much more deliberate than in the past. He starts out facing the catcher, turns as if to reset himself into the stretch position, then the windup and a pitch. Hernandez has a tendency at times to rush his delivery and then fly open, which, to me, seemed to make his pitches flatten out. I’ve seen him use the towel drill between starts to work on staying in line with the plate upon the delivery – he’s done this at least for two seasons now.
In talking with pitching coach Jose Jaimes during the last homestand, he mentioned that Hernandez has developed the ability to throw his changeup at any count. He has a fastball that sits 95-97 – but it is often straight – and he can mix in a slider that does catch the strike zone. The money pitch for him is when that changeup is on. He misses bats with it, but it’s the groundball outs that is the clue as to whether he will be effective or not. Today, it wasn’t.
Today, out of the stretch, he tended to fall off the first-base side of the mound and his pitches flattened and stayed up. Two groundouts (should’ve had a third on the fielder’s choice in the fifth) and a ton of well-struck pitches for hits or outs.
It looked like in the third he was finding a groove. Hernandez started the third with back-to-back whiffs on a change and a slider for the K, then got a quick grounder from Welker. Abreu followed and Hernandez appeared to get him to swing through a change to get the count to 1-2. The umps ruled Abreu checked the swing and whether it was from frustration or something else, another change followed that stayed up and left the yard.
After he gave up the first run in the fourth on Toole’s squeeze, Hernandez seemed to lose concentration. The five-pitch walk to .067-hitting Wear followed and one could sense that things would fall apart… and they did.
Hernandez understands what he’s to do and is working to fix the mechanics. Some day’s he’ll have it; some day’s… no. This was a no day.
Went 0-for-3 with a walk. Two fly balls to right and a strikeout on an 9-pitch AB. The approach is better; he’s seeing pitches better. Hopefully the results will follow as they did on Saturday when he homered to center and singled to right.
That fly-ball triple to Taveras in the first, I honestly thought he was going to catch it. He seemed to have no trouble tracking it down and raced it to the warning track. However, it seemed like he couldn’t get his body turned the right way to catch it. Now, admittedly, the play was 450+ feet from me, and so it may have been a harder play than I am describing. But, such as the expectations one has when watching Taveras on a near daily basis.
At the plate today, he looked like his “old” self, working the count or ambushing fastballs. I swear, nearly every plate appearance is over six pitches or 1-2.
The dude is strong and right now, he is seeing everything. His third hit in the fifth was a thing of beauty. Down 1-2, he spoiled a Bryan Baker slider (?), then laid off a pair of breaking balls to work the count full. The play-by-play stringer and I both thought there’s no way – given how he attacked the first two ABs – he’d see a fastball, especially with a base to work with. Kowalczyk saw one low and in and he ripped it to left.
He’s a tall kid, built solid and, at least at this point, the bat is ahead of SAL pitching. The whole adjustment to pro-game breaking balls hasn’t phased him for now. His defensive work, however, has been suspect. Kowalczyk entered Sunday’s game catching just one of 14 baserunners attempting to steal and the throws – at least on this homestand – have not been close. Several have sailed into center, or bounced well to the 3B side of second. Take on three passed balls and four errors thus far on the season – and would’ve added a fifth if not for Taveras backing up the play and throwing out Joel Diaz at third – and it’s been a tough road for him.
Hickory simply falls behind too many times and often it’s big. Here are the numbers:
The Crawdads have scored first in just 19 games this year and when the opponent scores, it comes during the first three innings. Opponents have scored in the first inning in 24 games. The Crawdads have scored just 25 total first-inning runs.
The opposition has scored in the first three innings in 43 of the games and hold a 139-88 over innings 1, 2 and 3 combined. Nine times, Hickory has given up six or more runs over the first three innings 8 times, 5 runs two more times.
The emphasis for the Rangers in their system is to command the fastball. It’s pretty certain that at Hickory, the starters are not commanding that pitch.
A pair of homers, including one that capped a three-run inning in the sixth, helped the Hickory Crawdads to a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Asheville Tourists Saturday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The win for the Crawdads (19-30) snapped a six-game skid and set them up for a chance to split the series after the Tourists (20-27) took the first two of the four-game set Thursday and Friday. First pitch of Sunday’s finale is scheduled for 3 p.m.
For just the 18th time in 49 games, and the first time since their last win on May 20, the Crawdads scored first. With two outs and the bases empty, Leody Taveras singled to left and reached second when 3B Travis Snyder’s throw to second for the force sailed over Max George’s glove as he covered the bag. Facing Brandon Gold, Ti’Quan Forbes then launched a three-run blast, a high-arching shot that kissed the batter’s eye in center. The homer was Forbes’s sixth of the season, but the first since April 17.
However, the Tourists rebounded quickly against Crawdads starter Matt Ball with two runs each in the second and third innings. In the second, Manny Melendez, Carlos Herrera and Joel Diaz all singled, with Diaz’s hit scoring Melendez. Ball then struck out Robbie Perkins, but a run scored when Diaz took off for second on a double-steal attempt. Herrera scored on the play as Diaz got caught in a run down between first and second.
In the third, Vince Fernandez singled and scored when Jose Gomez hit a sinking liner that Taveras closed in on and attempted to make a diving catch. The ball fell in and scooted past Taveras to the track, turning the play into an RBI triple. Gomez then scored easily on Willie Abreu’s double to the RCF track.
The Tourists had a chance to tack on more runs in the fourth when Ball walked the bases loaded after two outs. However, Ball settled down and struck out Gomez to end the inning.
Hickory held the deficit to 4-3 until the sixth when it scored the decisive runs. Anderson Tejeda singled and then scored all the way from first when Gold fielded Franklin Rollin’s swinging bunt and threw it down the right-field line. Rollin went to third on the play and scored when Valencia lofted a deep fly just over the fence in right for his second homer of the season.
After Ball got out of the bases-loaded jam in the fourth, he and C.D. Pelham allowed just one baserunner until Pelham walked Abreu to start the eighth. With the tying run at the plate, Pelham struck out Melendez and Herrera. Jake Lemoine was then summoned to face Diaz, who swung at the first pitch and hit into a force play.
Asheville threatened in the ninth after Perkins reached on an error by Forbes and Lemoine walked Fernandez with two outs. However, Gomez ended the game when his soft liner was snagged in the hole at second by the leaping Blaine Prescott.
Forbes getting the money swing back; at least, I think he is:
I sent out a tweet Friday night that it appeared Forbes was getting close.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Feel like Ti’Quan is close: hitting ball middle away. Took drive to warning track in CF, last AB was 11 pitches</p>— Mark Parker (@CrawdadsBeat) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CrawdadsBeat/status/868275387561857025″>May 27, 2017</a></blockquote>
The first pitch fastball from Gold was a no-doubter to center. Forbes did try to pull a couple of pitches away and both turned into grounders to short. However in the eighth, he sent the same pitch up the middle for a hard-hit single. He’s still plenty quick enough on the fastball, but secondary pitches away have given him trouble. It appears that he is trying to use his hands more on those pitches – that is when he recognizes them.
It’s only natural during a losing streak to see players try to do something to put the team on their backs. For the most part, he 18-year-old Taveras has been immune from that, but over the first few games of the homestand, it looks like he is trying to do too much.
Though he doubled on Thursday – with the help of a deflection off the 1B’s glove – he seemed impatient on his final three ABs with just three pitches for each one, all strikes with four swing-and-misses – an unusual amount for him.
On Friday, Abreu stole second and moved to third on the overthrow by the catcher. Taveras backed the play up correctly, but even with no real chance for the out at third, he threw it anyway. The ball landed on the protective screen behind the third-base dugout. Add to that a K and a couple of weak grounders – two pitches on each of those ABs – and you have a kid that is trying to do too much. Eight Ks in 7 games (through Friday) was not like him.
Tonight, his dive into center was ill-advised – perhaps he didn’t read it well as it was hit directly to him – and what should’ve been a single to set up first and second with one out turned into a run with another at third.
Taveras is very good at ambushing fastballs, or working long counts to get a pitch he can do something with. The single in the first tonight was classic-Taveras. Hitting left-handed, he served an 0-1 fastball away into left. Later in the eighth, we saw him work the count and earn a walk. That serves him well when he doesn’t get those first-pitch fastballs.
The rally that almost wasn’t:
After the Crawdads had four – four! – runners thrown out on the bases Friday night in a one-run loss, including pinch-runner Franklin Rollin, who was inserted as the tying run in the seventh and then proceeded to get picked off, a near disastrous start to the sixth almost occurred. If it had, I think manager Spike Owen would’ve had a coronary on the field.
Anderson Tejeda opened the inning with a lined single to right. As Tejeda rounded the base at first, a throw from Willie Abreu in right was already on the way behind him and nearly picked him off as he scampered back to first.
Was this closing day?:
The first few innings had the feel of the final day of the season, as the hitters went hacking. Gold needed just 51 pitches to get through the fifth inning and the Tourists hitters went hacking against Ball. Of the seven hits allowed by Ball over the first three innings, five of those were on the first or second pitch as the hitters saw a flat fastball.
Gold went on to record a complete game, despite the loss, needing just 93 pitches. He did a good job of pounding the strike zone (71 strikes) and getting the Crawdads to swing at his pitches early for weak contact. In fact, just six of the 34 Crawdads saw five or more pitches.
A smooth CD:
Like fine music, this C.D. (Pelham) was smooth and kept the Tourists in a relaxed state. As Gold did, the 6-6, 235 lb. lefty got outs quickly (39 pitches, 26 strikes over three innings) then finished them off with either a change or a slider. The slider was especially good to lefties as three of the four Ks came courtesy of that pitch. Given the rough treatment Pelham got at Lexington (KY) on Wednesday (2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER), the bounce back was badly needed.
For the second straight game, the Hickory Crawdads took an early lead. They then used five pitchers to shut down the Asheville Tourists 3-1 Tuesday night at L.P. Frans Stadium. The Crawdads now lead the best-of-five series 2-0. After a day off Wednesday. the remaining games shift to Asheville’s McCormick Field starting on Thursday with a game time at 7:05 p.m.
The Crawdads are seeking the club’s third SAL title, the first since 2004. Hickory also claimed the 2002 championship.
Hickory put together four hits to score two in the second against Tourists starter Ryan Castellani. Edwin Garcia and Eduard Pinto sandwiched singles around a fly out. After Juremi Profar struck out, Carlos Arroyo slapped a soft liner into left to score Garcia. Castellani walked Jose Cardona to load the bases and then took a liner from Dylan Moore off the foot that scored Pinto.
In the fourth, Profar reached when Josh Fuentes’ throw short hopped Roberto Ramos at first. A sac bunt from Arroyo and Cardona’s single pushed Profar to third before he scored on Moore’s grounder to third.
Nineteen days after injuring his hip, Brett Martin returned to the hill and threw a brilliant start. He allowed just two hits and struck out four while pitching to just one over the minimum.
Facing Adam Dian, the Tourists put the first two on before a sac bunt put the runners at second and third. Cesar Galvez ripped a run-scoring single to score Roberto Ramos scoring on the play. After a mound visit by Oscar Marin, Dian got Yonathan Daza to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
The similar script played out in the sixth for the Tourists against reliever Shane McCain. A walk and hit batter put runners and first and second with one out. Again after a mound visit by Marin, McCain got Dom Nunez to roll into a 6-4-3 double play.
That set up Luis Ortiz to enter the game in the seventh and throw two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out three and allowed one hit to earn the scorer’s decision win.
Scott Williams hurled a perfect ninth to get his third save of the playoffs.
After a 19-day layoff, the unknown of what Brett Martin would provide on the mound was the story line prior to the game. It is fair to say that all is well with the 20-year-old as he retired the first seven hitters of the game and 11 of the 13 he faced.
“After the first throw I had in warmups, I knew I was going to be fine,” Martin said. “Everything felt right and was going well. The hip fell great and then I got up there on the mound and just relaxed and stayed calm and did what I know to do.”
His most dominant inning came in the second when he struck out the side – the last two on six pitches. By my count, Martin finished with 52 pitches, throwing 37 strikes. He missed 11 bats with the changeup especially effective, garnering six of the swing-and-misses (4 on fastballs at 91-93, 1 curve).
“I threw it a lot more playing catch the past three weeks that probably I have all season,” said Martin. “I’m just trying to get comfortable with that pitch again. I knew I was going to need it against them to keep them off balance.”
His dominance didn’t go unnoticed by manager Corey Ragsdale, who had said prior to the game Martin would be limited to four innings.
Said Ragsdale of Martin’s outing, “Wow! Coming back and throwing like that, that’s obviously huge setting the tone.”
Unused in the playoffs prior to Tuesday night, Adam Dian and Shane McCain were put into a tight ball game following Martin’s brilliant work. Their job was simply to bridge the gap to Luis Ortiz in the seventh. The two relievers shook off the rust and made big pitches to get out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings.
Dian – eight days removed from his last appearance – was shaky at the start and it seemed the Tourists line was glad to see someone other than Martin. Roberto Ramos lined an 0-1 slider to right before Dian walked Josh Fuentes on four pitches.
“It didn’t start out the way that I wanted it to,” said Dian. “But I was pretty happy the way that I was able to work out of it and at least limit the damage. It’s pretty tough to pitch when you haven’t thrown in a while, but it’s not an excuse. I thought I made some good pitches off the bat, but I was up a little bit and they took advantage of that. “
After Galvez’s RBI single, Oscar Marin made a mound visit to help Dian gather himself.
“He just told me to take a deep breath and trust my stuff,” Dian said. “He was thinking that I was kind of letting the game get to me a little bit. It was speeding up; you get two runners on right off the bat and it’s a little tough for you to calm down and stay focused on what you need to do. He just wanted to give me a breather and make sure I had my mind straight before I faced that next hitter.”
Dian served up a 2-1 fastball away to Yonathan Daza to get the 4-6-3 double play and keep the Tourists at bay 3-1.
After 11 days off, lefty Shane McCain came in and also struggled at first with fastball command and then the slider in putting two men on.
“I was a little tight,” McCain said. “It did feel a little weird to be out there. I hadn’t been out there in a week or so, or maybe more. I really just had to trust my stuff. I was having trouble keeping my slider in the zone. That’s been my best pitch. I wasn’t able to start it where I wanted to, where I needed to.”
Another mound visit by Marin brought on an adjustment by McCain with the slider.
“I knew I had to start my slider more behind the lefthanders,” said McCain. “Once I did that, I got the two ground balls that I needed and luckily I got out of it.”
Facing LH hitter Dom Nunez with one out after the mound visit, McCain’s slider away was rolled to Edwin Garcia at short for the easy twin-killing.
“Those two guys right there, they went through the heart of the lineup,” said Ragsdale. “So, those two guys were huge for us tonight.”
Dian said that although he and McCain were both out of sorts after not pitching in a regular routine, they were still expected to do their jobs in the ball game.
Dian said, “That’s what Ragsdale asks of us, to come and to our job. It’s nice when you don’t have to have somebody come bail you out and you’re able to finish your inning. Obviously, it could’ve gone a number of different ways for both of us. I thought we both did a good job. We just gutted it out. We didn’t have our best stuff today, but we were able to minimize the damage. Shane did a hell of a job getting out of that situation.”
Ortiz Breaking Down Wall:
Luis Ortiz didn’t have the sharp command of his fastball, but he didn’t need to either. Omar Carrizales was able to expose that in the seventh when he worked the count full and then drilled a high slider for a single. Ortiz got out of the inning with no further damage.
Ortiz then cranked up the slider in the eighth, using three straight to fan Daza. He got away with a poorly placed fastball that Rogers lined hard to second to bring up Forrest Wall, the number 4 second base prospect in the minors (mlb.com). Ortiz struck out Wall on three pitches, swinging through a changeup, fastball and slider.
After getting Shane Hoelscher to fly to right, Williams worked through a nine-pitch battle with Dom Nunez, finally getting him to undercut a high fastball that went lazily to right. A first-pitch slider to Ramos was rolled easily to second.
Moore and Moore:
Dylan Moore continues a strong playoff run with a couple of hits and an RBI. He stayed on Castellani’s slider in the first for a single, then was able to gear up for the fastball that was lined off Castellani’s foot for the RBI hit. Moore pulled off an away fastball in the fourth, but got enough on it to score the runner from third.
Castellani’s Early Struggles:
The 19-year-old threw a fastball that ranged 93-95 mph that at times had a slider look. However, he is a pitcher that relies on keeping the ball down (1.30 GO/AO) and the inability to do that early cost him. Six of the nine hits against him were hard liners with seven of his outs coming on liners or fly outs. He dodged a bullet in the fifth when Juremi Profar ripped a line drive that went straight to Fuentes at third. The catch likely saved two runs.
Defensive Woes Continue:
A lazy throw by Fuentes to first allowed Profar to reach and score in the fourth to make it a three-run lead. In the fifth with Beras at first, Pinto lifted a bloop single to left center. Beras running on contact made it easily to third, the left fielder Carrizales threw to third anyway, which allowed Pinto to move up to second.
Small Ball, Small Expectations:
Down two runs in the fourth, the Tourists got a base hit from Wes Rogers to start the inning. Rather than taking a chance with leading base stealer (46 steals) to try and get to second on his own, Asheville chose to use Wall – the number one draft pick and No. 4 second base prospect, who had a .288/.355/.438 slash as a 19-year-old – as a bunter. The sacrifice worked, but Rogers advanced no further.
In the fifth after the Tourists put the first two runners on, they chose to use their SAL all-star leftfielder – who as a 20-year-old posted a .286/.333/.410 slash and hit into one double play all year – as a bunter. The sacrifice was successful and a run was scored, but it also proved crucial when a double play ended the inning.
It seems to me those were opportunities for the Tourists to try and siphon some momentum by letting a player make a play. But managers manage to a fault at times and this appeared to be a case of overmanaging.
Shutting down the running game:
Not enough can be said as to how well the Crawdads during the series have shut down the running game of the Tourists, who stole 258 bases this season. The pitchers have been relentless at keeping the runners close and allowing the catcher Trevino to make plays. He’s thrown out both runners trying to steal in the series, including the lone attempt on Wednesday.
Game 2: Asheville Tourists (72-67, Southern Division Champions) at Hickory Crawdads (81-57, Northern Division Champions) Hickory leads the best-of-five series 1-0.
Site/ Time: L.P. Frans Stadium, Hickory, N.C.. 7 p.m.
Affiliations: Asheville (Colorado Rockies)/ Hickory (Texas Rangers)
Game 1 Recap: The Hickory Crawdads took the lead in the second inning and coasted to a 7-2 win Monday night at home. The Crawdads went up 1-0 when Edwin Garcia and Jairo Beras steered back-to-back doubles into the left-field corner. Luke Tendler’s first playoff homer put Hickory up 2-0 in the fourth. Poor outfield play opened the game up for Hickory leading to the final five runs. In the sixth, Tendler scored from second when Wes Rogers was slow in getting the ball back to the infield after catching Jairo Beras’ fly to center. Eduardo Pinto doubled in a run to make it 4-0. In the eighth, Dylan Moore reached third on a dropped fly ball in left. Trevino drove him in with a single and scored himself on Tendler’s double. Beras’ RBI triple completed the score. Pedro Payano pitched a six-hitter over six shutout innings and struck out eight. Joe Filomeno added two more scoreless innings of relief and fanned two. The Tourists scored their only run on a two-run homer in the ninth by Shane Hoelscher against Dillon Tate.
Probables: ASH: Ryan Castellani (RH, 2-7, 4.48) vs. HKY: Brett Martin (LH, 5-6, 3.49)
Lineup: ASH: Wes Rogers-8, Forrest Wall-4, Shane Hoelscher-D, Dom Nunez-2, Roberto Ramos-3, Josh Fuentes-5, Omar Carrizales -7 Cesar Galvez-6, Yonathan Daza-9.
HKY: Jose Cardona-8, Dylan Moore-4, Jose Trevino-2, Luke Tendler-D, Edwin Garcia-6, Jairo Beras-9, Eduard Pinto-7, Juremi Profar-5, Carlos Arroyo-3.
Castellani vs. Hickory: In his lone start of the season against the Crawdads, Castellani allowed two runs on six hits and struck out five over five innings at McCormick Field on July 24. Hickory took a 1-0 against him in the first when Cardona, Josh Morgan and Pinto all singled. Trevino added a fourth hit in that inning, but Morgan was thrown out on the bases to limit the rally to one run. They made it 2-0 as Pinto was hit by a pitch, Trevino singled and Tendler brought in Pinto with a sac fly. Profar had the other hit against Castellani with a double in the second.
The No. 17 prospect (mlb.com) in the Rockies organization was the second-round choice of Colorado out of Brophy Prep School in Phoenix. The 6-foot-4, 19-year-old brings a low 90s fastball with a change and a looping curve according to mlb.com. He tries to keep the ball down as his 1.30 GO/AO ratio suggests and he has allowed only five homers this season – just two at McCormick. However, he relies on contact to get outs (94Ks, 113.1 innings). The lack of missed bats has hurt him at times as the SAL is hitting .291 against him this season. The OBA has jumped in the second half to .308 (.268 in the first half) and the ERA jumped to 5.32 (3.23). In his 16 road starts, he has a 3.52 ERA and hitters are batting .293. Castellani has gone past five innings just three times this season and has given up seven or more hits seven times. He has shown good control (29 walks), walking more than two hitters just three times.
Martin vs. Asheville: The native of Morristown, Tenn. faced the Tourists in two road games this season, taking the win in a strong start back on April 20 and a no-decision on July 23.
In the April start, Martin needed only 60 pitches (41 strikes) to easily handle the Tourists to the tune of one run on three hits over six innings. He retired the first ten of the game before Emerson Jimenez singled in the fourth. Henry Garcia homered against Martin to lead off the sixth with Wes Rogers getting the other single. Ten of the 18 outs he recorded came on groundouts (7) or strikeouts.
The July start was a bit more harrowing as he allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings. Much of the damage came when the Tourists jumped him for three runs on five hits in the first. Max White tripled in Carrizales, who had singled, and then scored on a sac fly by Hoelscher. Nunez and Jairo Rosario hit back to back doubles with Daza getting the final hit. Fuentes and Carrizales each singled in the second without scoring; White singled and later scored in the third. Martin was off the hook for the loss as they scored seven runs over the first two innings in an 8-6 win.
Martin has not pitched since injuring his hip on August 28, when he allowed three runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings to Delmarva. He’s had two other lengthy layoffs this season with mixed results. After a 15-day layoff from May 22-June 6, Martin gave up four runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. Martin came back from an 11-day layoff in early August and pitched a three-hitter over four shutout innings.
Martin is currently the Rangers No. 16 prospect according to mlb.com. The 20-year-old has a low 90s fastball with some run to go with a curve and change. Martin generally exhibits good control, but can run into spates of wildness at times. He has walked three or more batters in four starts, fewer than two in 14 starts. He leans slightly as a groundball pitcher (1.19 GO/AO) and has induced 13 double play balls in 95 innings. Martin can go deep into games if he finds a groove (pitched into the seventh three times), but the Rangers will likely limit him to five innings coming off the injury.
Tourists hitters vs. Hickory: Shane Hoelscher had three hits – including the ninth-inning homer, which was the lone extra-base hit – and Forrest Wall and Josh Fuentes each had two in the game-one loss.
Despite playing seven of the nine regular-season games at hitter-friendly McCormick Field this season, the Tourists batted only .244 against the Crawdads this season with five homers among 24 extra-base hits.
Yonathan Daza led the team at .346 (9-for-26) vs. Hickory. SAL All-star Omar Carrizales hit .333 (4-for-12) and his all-star teammate Shane Hoelscher was 3-for-10. SAL No. 4 second base prospect Forrest Wall was 5-for-15, which included a grand slam at L.P. Frans. Daza also had four RBI to lead the team.
Crawdads hitters vs. Asheville: In game one, the Crawdads pounded six extra-base hits with Beras ripping a double and triple, with Tendler lining a double to go with his homer.
Jose Trevino has five home runs and 12 RBI in eight games to go with a .313 (10-for-32) average in eight games this season. Eduard Pinto had 17 hits (.532) and eight RBI. Luke Tendler struggled against the Asheville staff with 11Ks in 37 plate appearances.
What to watch for: With neither starting pitcher expected to go deep into the game, middle relief should play a role. For Hickory, Joe Filomeno and Dillon Tate are likely out. Luis Ortiz could be available to eat innings to get to close Scott Williams. Other middle relievers Adam Dian, Shane McCain and Chris Dula have not pitched in the playoffs.
With 246 steals the Tourists run and run often and do so throughout the lineup with six players totally double-digit steal totals. Martin has allowed 14 of 21 runners to steal and catcher Jose Trevino has thrown out 33.7% of the runners trying to steal.
Conversely, though Hickory has run very little – only Jose Cardona has 10+ steals (30) – they may take shots against catcher Dom Nunez, who has caught a league worst 21.2% of runners trying to steal.
The opposites on the defensive sheet could not be more different as Hickory led the league in defense (121 errors) with Asheville committing the most (206). That played out last night with the Crawdads taking advantage of two outfielder miscues. An error on pickoff by Asheville put Moore at second in the first, but he was stranded there.
The Crawdads have done well in tight games, posting a SAL-best 27-16 mark in one-run games. Asheville was last at 14-22. They’ve also done poorly in the middle innings of tight games. When tied after the fifth, the Tourists are 10-14 (Hickory 14-7). Tied after the sixth, they are 9-12 (Hickory 6-7) and after the seventh they are 7-9 (Hickory 8-0).
The Tourists look to SAL all-star close Josh Michalec, who led the league with 30 saves.