Results tagged ‘ Dylan Moore ’
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 Story: Asheville Tourists at Hickory Crawdads (Game 1, SAL Championship)
The Hickory Crawdads never trailed in taking the first game of the best-of-five series by a score of 7-2 over the visiting Asheville Tourists Monday night at L.P. Frans Stadium. Game two of the SAL Championship will take place at Frans with the first pitch at 7 p.m. After a day of Wednesday, the series picks back up Thursday at McCormick Field in Asheville.
The Crawdads are two wins away for their third SAL title in club history, the first since 2004.
The Crawdads took the lead in the second inning against Helmis Rodriguez when Edwin Garcia and Jairo Beras led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to the left field corner.
Luke Tendler made it 2-0 when he cranked his first homer of the playoffs, a towering shot to right over the billboards.
That was more than enough for Crawdads starter Pedro Payano, who threw a six-hitter over six innings and struck out eight. The right-hander struck out six straight at one point.
Hickory added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth with the key play coming on a defensive miscue. With one out and runners on first and second, Jairo Beras lifted a fly ball to Wes Rogers in deep center. As Tendler tagged and moved to third, the throw to the infield from Rogers was a high-arching throw. Seeing the throw, manager Corey Ragsdale coaching at third waved Tendler around and he scored without a throw home. Eduard Pinto then ripped a double to center to score Edwin Garcia from first and put the Crawdads up 4-0.
In the eighth, Dylan Moore reached on a three-base error when Max White dropped a routine fly ball in left. Jose Trevino singled up the middle through the drawn-in infield to score Moore and then scored on Tendler’s double to center. After Garcia struck out, Jairo Beras drove a triple to center to bring in Tendler for the final run.
Asheville broke through in the ninth when Shane Hoelscher homered to left-center against Dillon Tate. The homer broke a 21-inning shutout streak by Crawdads pitching.
Payano, the 20-year-old from San Francisco de Macoris, D.R., continued a strong end-of-the season run for the Crawdads and is making a bid for a top-30 prospect spot. Along with catcher Trevino’s pitch selection, the two did a masterful job of mixing speeds and keeping the Tourists hitters off stride much of the night. Payano offered a fastball sitting 91-93 mph to go with a change, his most effective secondary pitch. He also threw a 12-to-6 curve and an occasional slider.
Payano needed 79 pitches to get through six innings, tossing 55 strikes. Of the 55 strikes, 17 missed bats on four different pitches, 15 of those on secondaries (8 CHs, 4 curves, 3 sliders). Both looking Ks came in the second with fastballs on the corner.
“He’s been a special kid ever since he got here,” said Ragsdale. “To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about him when he got here. He’s exceeded my expectations and has been a real pickup. He’s fit right in with the rest of the starters that have been really good helped us out. He was very good tonight.”
Hustling Pays off:
I’m sure the players hear the same manager-speak about busting tail and I’m sure it gets old as routine play after routine play is made. On Monday, it paid off twice and was and the two plays were the turning points of the game.
On Jairo Beras’ fly ball in the sixth, Tendler sprinted from second to third in such a manner that when Ragsdale from the third-base coaches’ box saw Rogers make the lollipop throw back to the infield, he decided to take a chance to send Tendler.
“Very surprised, it kind of shocked me a little bit,” said Tendler when asked of his reaction at the time. “That was a big run to give us a three-run lead. It was game-changer for us.”
Ragsdale said that with two outs, it was worth taking a shot to get a third run against Helmis Rodriguez and give an additional cushion to the pen. It also seemed to increase the momentum for his team.
“It seemed maybe they got down a little bit and it seemed to pick our spirits up a little bit,” Ragsdale said. “We were able to go on from there and put another good inning together.”
In the eighth, Moore sprinted from the start as his fly ball sailed into medium left field. When White dropped the ball, Moore was already well past second base and easily slid into third. Trevino then worked a 3-1 count before bouncing a Jerad McCrummen fastball into center.
Heart of the Order at the Heart of Success:
The number 3-6 hitters reached base eight times with six hits – five for extra bases – with five runs scored and six RBI.
Trevino’s leadoff walk started the sixth inning rally and he singled and scored in the eighth.
Tendler homered in the fourth, walked and scored in the sixth, doubled and scored in the eighth.
Garcia doubled and scored in the second, reached on a fielder’s choice and scored in the sixth.
Beras put up an RBI double to left in the second, an RBI triple to center in the eighth and had the key sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Filomeno Performs Well:
Joe Filomeno’s fastball-slider mix overpowered the Tourists during his two innings. He struck out two in the seventh, missing bats for strike three on a slider and a fastball. The lone hit was a leadoff single in the eighth, a grounder up the middle by Josh Fuentes. A double play followed by Yonathan Daza to end the threat.
Tate mixed reviews:
It was a little surprising to see Dillon Tate pitch with a seven-run lead in the ninth. However, because he had warmed up in the eighth, rather than wasting him on Monday – and likely not have him available for Tuesday – the decision was made to use him.
Forrest Wall started the minor rally for the Tourists in the ninth with a broken bat, bloop single to shallow center. From there, Tate seemed to struggle with fastball command. Hoelscher blasted 96 mph middle and slightly up for a homer just to the left of straight-away center.
An error by Juremi Profar at third extended the inning. After striking out Roberto Ramos, LH hitter Max White turned on a fastball in for a single to right.
Tate’s slider ended the night when Josh Fuentes flied out to center.
Defense Saves Tourists Early:
While their defense would let them down late, the Tourists kept the Crawdads at bay early with a couple of nice plays in the field.
With a runner at second with two outs in the first, Tendler smoked a sharp grounder up the middle. SS Luis Jean, playing near the bag to hold the runner Dylan Moore, made a quick pick of a short-hop at the cut of the outfield grass before a strong throw to first completed the out.
In the second with runners at the corner and one out, Ramos handled a one-hopper on the grass from Carlos Arroyo to start a 3-6-3 double play and save a run.
Base running Blunders Costly:
Rogers broke up Payano’s strikeout streak with two outs in the third when he fisted a changeup into shallow left for a hit. He then tried to stretch the play into a double, but was out easily as Eduard Pinto threw a bullet to Moore at second for the tag.
One inning later, Wall and Hoelscher each singled to start the fourth inning. With cleanup hitter Dom Nunez at the plate, Wall took off for third and was cut down easily on Trevino’s throw. The bigger blunder happened when Hoelscher stayed at first on the play. After Nunez struck out, the mistake was magnified when Ramos steered a slow bouncing single through the hole at second – a hit that with two outs would’ve likely scored Hoelscher.
Game Story: West Virginia Power at Hickory Crawdads (Game 3, SAL Playoffs)
The Hickory Crawdads scored a run in the fourth and made it stand up among a strong pitching and defensive effort to claim a 1-0 win over the West Virginia Power in the decisive game of the South Atlantic League series.
The Crawdads will move onto a best-of-five SAL Championship Series against the Asheville Tourists starting Monday night at L.P. Frans Stadium. Hickory will host games one and two on Monday and Tuesday. After a day off, the series will shift to Asheville’s McCormick Park from games three through five starting Thursday.
The lone run of the game came in the fourth inning when Dylan Moore led off with a double, moved to third on a Jose Trevino groundout and scored on Luke Tendler’s sacrifice fly.
The Crawdads used three pitchers to shut down the SAL’s top-hitting team on six hits and three walks. Collin Wiles pitched the first six innings. He issued all three walks and four of the six hits and struck out four. Luis Ortiz struck out four of the six batters he faced. Scott Williams struck out the first two hitters before Elvis Escobar and Connor Joe singled. The game ended when Taylor Gushue lined to Moore at second.
With Wiles struggling early, the defense held the Power off the scoreboard. Kevin Newman led off the game with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Kevin Kramer then lined a single to right. Power manager Brian Esposito made an aggressive move to send Newman to the plate. Jairo Beras fielded the ball and fired a throw directly to catcher Jose Trevino, who slapped a quick tag onto Newman sliding into the plate.
In the second, Jerrick Suiter singled and also moved to second on another sac bunt. A grounder to short by Joe kept Suiter at second. Shortstop Edwin Garcia’s diving stop robbed Gushue of a hit on a sharp grounder and ended the inning.
The next inning Newman again walked before Pablo Reyes sent a long fly ball to left center. Jose Cardona raced over from center and then made a running, lunging catch on the track, moving Newman, who was on the way to third at the time of the catch, back to first.
“I told the guys before the game, ‘if we pick it up and throw it like we need to, we have a chance to win the game,’ said Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale. “They went above and beyond and they made some unbelievable plays and that won us the ballgame.”
Wiles said the defensive plays were a reflection of what the team has done this season.
“The confidence coming into the game was high on our defense,” said Wiles. “You’ve seen it all year. Our defense has made spectacular plays all year. There was no let down. If anything, they took it to the next level and that’s a credit to them.”
The final defensive gem of the game came when Moore snared Gushue’s hard liner at second.
Wiles Pitches Around Trouble:
Wiles had problems finding a feel for his secondary pitches the first few innings. However, he had good fastball placement around the strike zone and kept the Power hitters from squaring them up.
Kramer’s single in the first appeared to be on a slider that caught a lot of the plate. Gushue’s hard grounder to Garcia was a high change. The worst pitch of the night was a hanging curve that turned into Reyes’ liner that was run down by Cardona.
“My style is to put the ball in play and let the defense work,” Wiles said. “I tested them quite a few times and they answered every single time. To bounce back down a game to winning like that throwing a shutout, a team shutout in the third, unbelievable, I couldn’t be prouder of my team right now.”
Wiles found the ability to use all his pitches in the fourth in his lone perfect inning of the night. A cut-fastball struck out Reyes to end a minor jam in the fifth and the final out of for Wiles was a strikeout of Escobar on a fastball.
Battling 0-2 counts the difference:
SAL pitcher of the year Yeudy Garcia was the equal of anyone on the mound Saturday as he struck out seven, walked one, and allowed four hits. The inability to finish off Moore and Tendler after getting ahead 0-2 was a difference in the game.
In his at bat, Moore laid off back-to-back sliders just off the outside corner, then got a belt-high, 95 mph pitched that he ripped to the wall. Likewise, Tendler laid off an 0-2 change, spoiled another before sending a third-straight change that was up out to deep left for the sac fly.
“We knew that we were going to have to fight and claw for everything we got,” said Ragsdale. “They battled their tails off. We didn’t get a ton of hits, but they were up their fighting. That kid’s the SAL pitcher of the year for a reason. I’m super proud of the way the guys game out and battled. You knew it was going to be tough to get anymore. We were going to get their best stuff just like they were going to get our best stuff. We were able to make it stick.”
West Virginia was out of sync the entire two innings that Luis Ortiz was on the mound and it started on the first pitch. Sitting on a first-pitch fastball, Joe swung badly at a slider that was off the plate away. Gushue flew out to right and then after swinging through a slider, the right-handed Tyler Filliben watched a 98 mph fastball catch the outside corner at the knees.
Ortiz went on to strike out the side in the eighth two swinging on sliders and the final one another called third strike on a fastball at the knees.
The two innings that Ortiz threw was arguably the most-dominant two innings of the season, including five missed bats on sliders in the two innings.
“Wiles set the tone right away,” Ortiz said. Him getting deep into the game and messing with the hitters and having them on hold. He made it easier for me just to let it go and do what I have to do.
Williams Pitches Rare Back-to-Back Outing:
Scott Williams worked around two two-out hits and got a break on the liner hit to Moore for the final out of the game. He worked mostly off his 95-97 mph fastballs in getting two strikeouts in the inning.
Having pitched two innings in Friday night’s win, it was thought that he would not be available on back-to-back nights. However, the wheels were put in motion on Saturday and Williams was brought in to seal the series.
“Oscar and Rags told me that I might have a possibility of doing it,” said Williams. “So, we had to convince the pitching coordinator (Danny Clark) to let me do it. He gave me the heads up and I was pumped to get an opportunity to come back out.”
Kudos to Trevino:
Wiles was effusive in his praise of catcher Jose Trevino’s work in the series and felt he had as much to do with the shutout as anyone.
Wiles said, “The consensus between me, Ortiz and Williams is Jose Trevino behind the plate. He told me before the series that he’s got a plan, just stick with him. It worked in game one; we just didn’t get the win. You see a man battle his butt off the last two games and basically willing us to win, willing us to make the right pitch at the right time, all the credit goes to him.”
The Hickory Crawdads took a major hit on the infield when SS Michael De Leon strained a quad muscle for the third time this season during a game at Delmarva. On top of the injury earlier in the month to 3B Josh Morgan, the Crawdads were suddenly look for quick answers on the infield with the playoffs just a week away.
Onto the scene came 23-year-old Dylan Moore, the Texas Rangers seventh-round selection this past June out of the University of Central Florida.
Moore, a native of Yorba Linda, Calif. put up .254/.364/.454 slash with 27 extra-base hits in 65 games at short-season Spokane, which earned him a Northwest League all-star game selection.
A four-game audition with the Crawdads during the final weekend of the season went nearly flawlessly as he went 7-for-12 with two doubles and two RBI. He was moved up to the number two slot in the batting order for the final two games, and along with Eric Jenkins the two have given the lineup a spark.
On Friday night, his leadoff double in the third – one that developed the first few steps out of the box and ended when he kicked the ball out of the glove of the second baseman Pablo Reyes – provided a jolt with the team 2-1 after a controversial second inning. Moore went on to score the tying run and the Crawdads never trailed again.
Moore’s 2015 season has been a long one, which started when the then senior began workouts the second season in January en route to an All-The American Conference selection.
I spoke with Moore during the final weekend of the season and here is that interview.
You started the season at UCF in January, then to Spokane and now here you are in Hickory in September. What kind of whirlwind has this been for you?
Moore: It’s been crazy, going from my last season at UCF, and then getting drafted and flying out to Spokane, and then being here. It’s been a crazy ride, but one I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.
Did you expect to get here at this point?
Moore: I never really thought about it. Obviously, you want to get up as far as you can, as quick as you can. I was set in Spokane later in the season and some guys are moving around. I was surprised to hear that I was moving up to fill a spot, but I’m proud that I am here.
You got an all-star selection. How wild was that for you?
Moore: That was crazy and it was hosted by Spokane, so it was nice to hear my name and have everyone know who it was. Being that is was my first year in the league and to get nominated for that was a real honor.
I hear things about Spokane, but what was it like to play there? I understand that it’s more like a AAA atmosphere.
Moore: It was awesome. It’s a great fan base. Everyone comes out for the games, whether it’d be a weekend day or a weeknight game. Everyone there’s cheering for you and they know everything about you. All the kids asking for autographs. They really pull for you and it makes for a great atmosphere to play baseball.
What are some of the adjustments you’ve had to make going from college to the pros?
Moore: Probably just playing every day. You only play four or five games a week during college ball. I think playing every day and keeping my body in shape was the biggest adjustment. Everyone’s good. Everyone’s a high-level athlete and a high-level performer. To make myself that was challenge, but I like challenges; that’s what makes you who you are. That’s what builds your character. I’m trying to take that in stride and really, really go for it.
What have you been able to do adjustment wise that maybe you weren’t able to do yet at Central Florida?
Moore: Mostly mental adjustments. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work; I’m a big worker. Most of my coaches have told me to use my eyes more and use my mental capacities more so you don’t get so tired out. You can take as many swings as you want, but if you don’t see the ball then you’re not going to be able to hit it. So mentally, there’s a lot a things these guys have taught me at Spokane and here, because they’ve had so much experience, it’s crazy. I’m just trying to pick up on all of that.
Who have you made a connection with so far here at Hickory? You come into the clubhouse and the guys have been together for so long already.
Moore: I knew (Jeffrey) Springs and (Dillon) Tate from Spokane. Actually Austin Pettibone is from Yorba Linda, so me and him got along right away. The infielders, Arroyo and Eddie (Edwin Garcia) and all of them have taken me in and it’s been good so far. Hopefully, we’ll make a run here in the playoffs and have some more fun.
How was it to come here and know that you are going to be in the playoffs?
Moore: It’s great. This is what I hoped for. I’d hoped to make the playoffs in Spokane, but obviously that didn’t happen. When I heard they needed a guy for the playoffs, it was great. I love playing in competitive baseball. My first professional and having my first professional playoff experience, it’s going to be a wild ride.
What’s the next step in your development?
Moore: I think being able to play in a full season. I think I want to play consistently over a long period of time. I want to be able to steal more bags. Physically, I want to be able to hit for more power and get on base more.
What do you hope for next year, to come back here or go to High Desert?
Moore: Wherever they need me. I want to be a contributor at the highest level as I can. I want to play as long as I can until they tell me I can’t play anymore. Wherever they put me, I’ll be happy with. I’m just going to work as hard as I can in the offseason to come back bigger, stronger, better and play at the highest level.
What was the first moment that you realized that pro baseball was different?
Moore: Probably the first road trip: a seven-hour ride after a game, getting there at six in the morning, being really tired, waking up and then going to sleep for a little bit, then getting up and having to play a game that night. That whole day was an experience for me. Just being able to play under those circumstances and stuff like that. I knew this was going to be the ride and this is what I’m going to have to endure and really grasp and take a hold of and take it in stride.
The Hickory Crawdads forced a decisive game three in the Northern Division playoffs of the South Atlantic League by taking a 6-3 win over the West Virginia Power Friday night at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory.
The Crawdads and Power return to Frans Saturday night at 7 p.m. to decide the series with the winner to play the winner of the Southern Division series between Asheville and Savannah, also to be decided on Sunday.
The win was the first playoff win since 2010 and the first home playoff win since the team captured the SAL title in 2004.
An intense game throughout saw the Crawdads take a 1-0 lead in the first on Edwin Garcia’s single to right after two outs.
West Virginia bounced back quickly by hitting its second homer of the series when Connor Joe took Ariel Jurado deep after a walk to Taylor Gushue.
The Crawdads evened the score in the third against Stephen Tarpley when Dylan Moore doubled and later scored on Edwin Garcia’s grounder to second.
The Power again got even in the fifth as Pablo Reyes singled with two outs, stole second and scored on Kevin Kramer’s single to chase Jurado.
After stranding eight over the first five innings, the Crawdads finally took the lead for good in the sixth. Tarpley walked Juremi Profar and Carlos Arroyo back-to-back before Jose Cardona lofted a soft liner into left to score Profar.
Hickory stranded two more in the sixth and the bases loaded in the seventh before finally getting a big hit in the eighth to pad the lead. Cardona and Jose Trevino sandwiched walks around two straight outs before Luke Tendler tripled in both.
Dillon Tate threw two scoreless innings to get the win in relief. Scott Williams pitched two scoreless innings to earn the save.
All-Star Matchup Anything But:
West Virginia’s Stephen Tarpley and Hickory’s Ariel Jurado was named to Baseball America’s Low-A All-Star Team earlier in the day, but neither pitcher was sharp on Friday.
Tarpley looked early as if he would be the same dominant pitcher he was when he three-hit the Crawdads back in August. Left-handed hitter Eric Jenkins waved past a biting slider to start the first and Dylan Moore was jammed on a 5-3 grounder. But then Jose Trevino got enough on a fastball in to reach on a short pop-up that landed between the mound and third. Tarpley shattered Luke Tendler’s bat with a change, but the ball cleared the infield for a hit. Edwin Garcia lined a fastball over the plate for a solid single. From that point, Tarpley seemed to lose control of the fastball and the slider never really had the same bite as it did early. The change he showed in his previous start didn’t have the same effect, which left his fastball for the picking. Of the nine hits Hickory had against Tarpley, eight came on fastballs.
Jurado missed with the slider earlier, getting away with a hanger on a fly out by Kevin Newman to open the game and a single from Kevin Kramer in the third. He brought out the curve in the second and that seemed to be his best secondary pitch of the night. However, when he was unable to throw his slider or change consistently for strikes, the Power hitters were able to ignore or spoil the curve and sit on the fastball. Connor Joe tagged one for the homer in the second. Michael Suchy fought out of an 0-2 count in the third before winning a nine-pitch battle on a change that stayed up. The same scenario played out in the fifth when Kramer battled for eight pitches until he ripped a fastball for an RBI single to chase Jurado. The inability to find a put-away pitch cut his outing to 4.2 innings with Jurado throwing 86 pitches (59 strikes). Six of the seven batters to reach against Jurado did so after two outs.
Umpires with a Tough Night: Home plate umpire Ben Sonntag caught the ire of both sides with what seemed to be inconsistent strike-zone corner to his left. The most egregious was a 3-2 curveball by Jurado in the second that Sonntag appeared to give up on early. The entire Crawdads defense had begun the trot to the dugout – Jose Trevino getting past the home-plate circle – before being called back as Tyler Gushue was awarded the walk. Connor Joe hit the next pitch, a flat fastball, over the fence to left.
Tarpley appeared to balk with runners on the corners in the third. Both Chad Comer at first and Corey Ragsdale at third gave the base umpires an earful.
To their credit, ejections likely would have occured were the game a regular season contest. However, the umpires held their collective thumbs and probably let both sides have a longer leash.
Jurado Settles Down: With Jurado visibly upset after Joe’s homer, the catcher Trevino and the entire infield converged on the mound to console Jurado.
“I just had to talk to him,” said Trevino. “He’s a young kid. He’s got to learn how to hold his emotions in. All season he’s done a good job of doing that. I guess that happening. You saw it in his eyes, he was like, ‘Dang it, that could’ve been a strikeout… it happens.”
Crawdads Show Emotion: After the Power scored three in the fifth to take the lead in game one Wednesday, Hickory went into a funk and saw the final 13 hitters be retired. When the Crawdads lost the lead in the second on a two-run homer under dubious circumstances, the team found some fire.
They rebounded to tie the game in the third, a rally which started when Dylan Moore legged out a double with the slide kicking the ball away from 2B Pablo Reyes. From then on, the Crawdads were the aggressors in the game and never trailed again. The normally stoic Dillon Tate slapped his glove and sprinted to the dugout after Carlos Arroyo picked a sharp grounder to first to strand a runner at third in the sixth.
“I think the first game we saw a little bit of, ‘oh, here we go.’ I think today, we talked a little bit about it before the game. No matter what happens, continue to play. I think you saw that tonight. The guys stayed up. They didn’t get their heads down and they continued to battle and they answered a couple of times.”
Arroyo’s defense: Arroyo played his fourth pro game at first base – all in the past four games – but he made several defensive plays that proved to be crucial. In the second, Arroyo picked a short-hop on a sharp grounder by Chase Simpson to start a 3-6-1 double play. After Arroyo made the play behind the bag in the sixth to save a run, Kevin Newman lofted a soft liner down the first-base foul line in the seventh. Arroyo beat right fielder Jairo Beras to the ball, then turned and fired a strike to second with shortstop Edwin Garcia applying the tag.
Tate dominates: After serving up a single on a first-pitch, 98-mph fastball to Jerrick Suiter in the sixth, Tate settled down to get out of inning. In the seventh, he sat down both Joe and Reyes as 97-98 mph fastballs caught the outside corner at the knees for called third strikes. Joe’s K was set up by sliders at the corner.
“We knew going in that Tate had two innings that we could go to to get him into that position and perform. The first kid jumped on a fastball and (Tate) settled down and got out of it. He had some electric stuff that he was throwing up there.”
The Crawdads Open the Door: After putting up single runs through the first game and seven innings, Luke Tendler’s two-run triple finally gave the Crawdads their first multi-run frame of the series. “We’ve had a ton of games where we just couldn’t get that big hit,” said Ragsdale. “There in the bottom of the eighth, Luke got a big hit for us and drove in two runs and kind of gave us a little breathing room and get the ballgame taken care of.”
Williams Shuts the Door: Scott Williams continued a strong second-half with three strikeouts over the final two innings. Like Tate, he kept a 95-97 mph low and away to righties with an occasional slider mixed in.
South Atlantic League Playoff Series
Game 2: West Virginia Power (87-52, 1-0 series lead) at Hickory Crawdads (81-57, 0-1)
Site/ Time: L.P. Frans Stadium, Hickory, N.C.
Game 1 Recap: The Power struck for three runs in the fifth inning and went on the capture a 4-2 home win. After Crawdads pitcher Yohander Mendez allowed two baserunners over 4.1 innings, a double by Chase Simpson and Taylor Gushue tied the game at 2. West Virginia added an unearned run in the inning, which scored on a wild pitch by Joe Filomeno on a dropped third-strike after fanning Michael Suchy with two outs. The Power tacked on the fourth run in the seventh on an error by 1B Carlos Arroyo. The Crawdads put seven baserunners on over the first five innings, but managed only a solo homer by Jairo Beras and an RBI groundout by Arroyo. The trio of Austin Coley Sam Street and Nick Neumann retied the final 13 Crawdads of the game.
Probables: WV: Stephen Tarpley (LH, 11-4, 2.48) vs. HKY: Ariel Jurado (RH, 12-1 2.48)
Lineup: WV: Kevin Newman-6, Pablo Reyes-4, Kevin Kramer-D, Michael Suchy-9, Jerrick Suiter-7, Elvis Escobar-8, Chase Simpson-5, Taylor Gushue-2, Connor Joe-3.
HKY: Eric Jenkins-7, Dylan Moore-4, Jose Trevino-2, Luke Tendler-D, Edwin Garcia-6, Jairo Beras-6, Juremi Profar-5, Carlos Arroyo-3, Jose Cardona-8.
Tarpley vs. Hickory: The lefty from Los Angeles made two starts against Hickory this season with mixed results. Back on June 21 in West Virginia, Tarpley allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Jose Trevino singled in a run in the first, a run that was unearned due to a passed ball. The Power took a 4-1 lead in that game before the Crawdads picked up a run in the fourth on Jose Cardona’s single. Tripp Martin’s double chased him in the sixth and the Crawdads eventually rallied later in the game for a 10-5 win.
Tarpley dominated the Crawdads in a start at L.P. Frans on August 15 when he shut down the Crawdads on three hits over eight shutout innings. The Crawdads lineup had difficulty solving a three-pitch mix as Tarpley recorded 16 groundball outs and threw 93 pitches (63 strikes).
In his last start at Kannapolis, Tarpley allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits and struck out three. He was named to Baseball America’s Low-A All-Star Team.
He features a low-90s fastball with some run into right-handed hitters. He can keep hitters off-stride with a slider and change.
Jurado vs. West Virginia: The right-hander from Aguadulce, Panama outdueled SAL pitcher of the year Yeudys Garcia in a 3-1 win back on May 19. In that start, Jurado allowed one unearned run on four hits and struck out three. The Power stranded runners in scoring position both in the first and second before tallying their only run of the game when Tyler Filliben singled and went to third on a throwing error. He scored on a sacrifice fly.
Jurado is coming off his worst performance of the season after giving up five runs (two unearned) on seven hits over three innings for his only loss of the season. Like Tarpley, he was named to Baseball America’s Low-A All-Star Team.
He features a hard sinker at 94 that runs to the back foot of right-handed hitters and also changes speeds well. Jurado can run a slider glove side and has had some success with a developing curveball.
Power hitters vs. Hickory: In game one, Pablo Reyes and Kevin Kramer (one walk) each doubled and were the lone Power hitters with two hits as the Crawdads held them to only six hits. Chase Simpson and Tyler Gushue homered.
Among active players, Elvis Escobar has the highest batting avg. vs. Hickory during the regular season at .355 (11-for-31). Jerrick Suiter went 6-for-18 (.333) and Kevin Newman went .286 (4-for-14). Connor Joe hit only .200, but picked up eight walks in six games. All-star OF Michael Suchy had a team-high five RBI on four extra-base hits.
Crawdads hitters vs. West Virginia: In game one, Hickory piled up seven hits with Jairo Beras getting two. Eric Jenkins and Jose Trevino both doubled with Dylan Moore, Edwin Garcia and Juremi Profar singling.
Among active players during the regular season, Carlos Arroyo is the lone player hitting above .250 against West Virginia. Arroyo is 6-for-15 (.400) with a triple, a homer and two RBI. Beras and Garcia are at the .250 mark with Beras cranking a pair of homers to go with the one in game one. He leads the team with five RBI and Jose Trevino has four.
What to watch for: The Crawdads will have to figure out a way to solve Tarpley’s ability to change speeds and make him get pitches up… On the mound, if Jurado can put up his usual five innings-plus the Crawdads will have Tate and Ortiz available to bridge the gap to close Scott Williams (10 saves)… The Power like to play small ball (90 sac bunts) which could put pressure on an infield that has not played much together. 1B Carlos Arroyo had never played first as a pro until last weekend – a three-game career at the position – and Dylan Moore has six games with Hickory at second… Eric Jenkins at the top of the order and Jose Cardona at the bottom could give the Crawdads the chance to put some speed to use. Hickory was next to last in steals this season (Cardona had 30 of the 95), so the new toy of Jenkins speed could be a wrinkle that the Power has to contend with. As Hickory searches for offense against Tarpley, Jenkins ability to bunt to get on base – and get to second – could be key. Power catcher Tyler Gushue is next to last in the SAL in caught stealing (26.6%). Gushue led the SAL with 24 passed balls.
South Atlantic League Playoff Series
Game 1: Hickory Crawdads (81-57) at West Virginia Power (87-52)
Site/ Time: Appalachian Power Park, Charleston, West Virginia
Crawdads Playoff History: The Crawdads will make their tenth playoff appearance in 23 seasons since joining the South Atlantic League in 1993. It is the first appearance since 2011. This will be the third trip to the playoffs during the seven seasons the Crawdads have been affiliated with the Texas Rangers.
Hickory has won two SAL championships, both coming during the affiliation of the club with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002 and 2004. The Crawdads have not won a series since claiming the title in 2004, nor have they won a playoff home game since the clincher of that series.
Power Playoff History: West Virginia has made seven playoffs appearances since staring South Atlantic League play in 1987. The lone SAL title came in 1990 as the Charleston Wheelers – a Reds affiliate – swept the Savannah Cardinals in three straight. This is the fourth playoff appearance under the name of the West Virginia Power (beginning in 2005), the second as a Pirates affiliate (2013), which began in 2009.
Hickory/ West Virginia Playoff History: The Crawdads defeated the Charleston Alley Cats (Blue Jays) in two straight in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. The clincher of the 2004 sweep was the final game played at Watt Powell Park in Charleston. West Virginia (Brewers) took a 2-1 first-round series win in 2007.
How Hickory Got Here: The Crawdads led the first-half Northern Division chase wire-to-wire, eventually finishing with a 44-24 mark, 7 ½ games ahead of second-place West Virginia.
How West Virginia Got Here: The Power bullied the SAL in the second half and finished 50-20. It was the first time a SAL club had 50 half-season wins since Augusta turned the trick in 2007. West Virginia finished ten games ahead of second-place Delmarva in the second half and 13 games ahead of fourth-place Hickory.
Game 1 Pitching matchup: Hickory-Yohander Mendez (LH, 3-3, 2.44) vs. West Virginia- Austin Coley (RH, 16-6, 3.66)
Mendez: After pitching in a piggyback arrangement with Ariel Jurado much of the season, Mendez split off on his own late in the season. After allowing more than two runs just once in his first 19 outings, the lefty gave up four in five innings to Greensboro on August 23 and five to Delmarva in 3.1 innings on September 1 to close out the regular season. He gave up one homer in each of those outings, the only long balls he allowed this season. Mendez finished the season with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. SAL hitters batted .230 against Mendez in 2015. His struck out 74 and walked 15 in 66.1 innings. Against West Virginia in 2015, Mendez allowed one unearned run on three hits, two walks and struck out seven in eight innings (two appearances, one start).
Relievers: Scott Williams likely will get the first look for a save situation. The right-hander picked up ten saves in the second half and built a 40-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31.1 innings in the second half. In three outings vs. the Power in 2015, Williams allowed one run – a homer to Michael Suchy on June 19, on three hits and struck out two over four innings… Joe Filomeno gave up two runs to the Power late in a game on August 16… Shane McCain was roughed up in an outing vs. West Virginia on August 15 (2.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K…Having not pitched since September 2, it would not be unusual to see 2015 first-rounder Dillon Tate get an inning in the middle of the game. Manager Corey Ragsdale indicated that Tate and Luis Ortiz would be available for action in the series… Adam Dian (5 saves) threw an inning on Monday’s win. He has pitched out of the pen on one day’s rest just once.
West Virginia pitching:
Coley: The 23-year-old right-hander made all 27 starts this season and seemed to finish strong as he allowed one earned run in each of his last four starts (26 innings). Coley has showed good command with 111 Ks to just 25 walks in 147.2 innings. A fly ball pitcher, – He holds a 0.88 GO/AO ratio – Coley is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed a SAL-high 18 this season. The Crawdads touched him up for three in a loss back on August 14. Hickory has had perhaps the best luck against the 16-game winner tagging him for 20 hits over 11 innings in two starts. Among Crawdads hitters, Carlos Arroyo is 4-for-6 this season with a homer and Luke Tendler has doubled and homered in four plate appearances. Jairo Beras went 2-for-2 with a double.
Relievers: Nick Neumann is the Power close with 17 saves in 19 chances. He threw two perfect innings against Hickory this season, both coming in the first half… Other key relievers will likely include Sam Street, Jared Lakind and Julio Vivas. Of the trio, only Lakind (1 IP) has faced Hickory this year.
Late season injuries to Josh Morgan and Michael De Leon put the Crawdads into a mix-and-match mode on the infield. Catcher Jose Trevino and third baseman Juremi Profar are the two likely certainties around the diamond. Ragsdale indicated that Edwin Garcia will likely play short and newcomer Dylan Moore will place second. Carlos Arroyo, who played second most of the season, was stationed at first the final two games of the season and handled the position without a problem. With his output against Coley (4-for-6) this season, and his success against the Power this season Arroyo may get the first look with Chuck Moorman and Jonathan Meyer available off the bench. Arroyo is the lone active Crawdads player to hit over .300 (6-for-15) against the Power in 2015.
In the outfield, the arrival of 2015 second-round Eric Jenkins gives Ragsdale a different wrinkle in the lineup with his speed. He went 7-for-18 during his five-game audition last week and he may well have earned some at bats in the series. The likely lineup will be Luke Tendler in left, Jose Cardona in center and Jairo Beras in right. Tendler ended his season fourth in the SAL in RBI and total bases. Beras had a pair of homers and five RBI during a mid-June series in Charleston. However, he went 0-for-7 against the Power in August. Eduard Pinto may get a look at first on in the DH slot.
The Power had only 18 position players on their roster this season with eight players taking the field for 99 or more games (Hickory has three in the expected lineup, though Pinto has 98 games). The team finished the season at the top of the SAL with a .269 batting average and a .347 on-base percentage. It’s a team that will play classic National League small-ball (90 sacrifices) to scratch out runs for what has been a shutdown pitching staff. They are very patient at the plate. West Virginia leads the SAL in walks and has the second fewest strikeouts this season.
Behind the plate will likely be Taylor Gushue with Connor Joe – the Pirates No. 29 prospect (mlb.com) at first. Pablo Reyes and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Newman will play second and short respectively. Rounding out the infield at third will likely be Tyler Filliben, who has filled in for the injured Jordan Luplow.
A talented group is stationed in the outfield with SAL all-star Michael Suchy starting in right. Suchy, the fifth-round pick of the Pirates in 2014, finished the season second in the SAL in runs scored and in RBI.
A combination of Tito Polo, Elvis Escobar and Jerrick Suiter split up left and center, with Suiter getting many of the DH starts. Suiter and Esocbar finished fifth and eighth in the SAL in batting avg. with Escobar third in hits.
Against the Crawdads, Escobar hit .355 (11-for-31) to lead the team among active players. The injured Luplow had two of the five homers struck against Hickory and he is tied with Suchy with five RBI.
Other things to know: This is likely to be a pitching-and-defense series. Hickory and West Virginia finished tied with the fewest errors committed in the SAL and went 1-2 in WHIP. The Crawdads finished second in ERA (3.19) with the Power fourth at 3.38… Defending bunts had been a downfall for the Crawdads prior to their injuries and against a team that likes small ball, the revamped defensive alignment – especially with the likelihood of inexperience at first – could be a point worth watching… Both teams expect to win when they score first. The Crawdads went 54-14 when scoring first – tops in the SAL – and West Virginia was 59-16, which was second… Hickory has held up well under pressure as it was 71-4 when leading or tied after seven innings. In one-run games, the Crawdads are 27-16 with the Power at 19-22.
The Rome (Ga.) Braves muscled two home runs to account for all their runs in a 5-1 win over the Hickory Crawdads Saturday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.
With the win, the visiting Braves (58-80 overall, 27-41 second half) kept pace with the Lexington (Ky.) Legends for the battle to stay out of the cellar in the overall standings in the Southern Division. Rome is looking to avoid a second-straight, last-place finish, which would also be the fifth such finish in eight seasons.
Hickory dropped to 79-57 overall, 35-33 in the second half. The Crawdads are looking to the final two games of the series to pick up their 80th win for the second straight season. Hickory last had back-to-back 80 win seasons from 2002 to 2004.
The Braves scored all the runs it would need in the fourth when Tanner Murphy cranked a three-run shot (7) in the fourth. Matt Tellor added the other two runs in the sixth with a blast to right, his fifth of the season.
The Crawdads scored their only run of the game in the sixth with Edwin Garcia tripled and scored on Jose Trevino’s grounder to third.
Trevor Belicek picked up the win (1-0) for Rome with Austin Pettibone talking the loss (3-7).
Jeffrey Springs: The Texas Rangers 30th-round pick this past June out of Appalachian State struck out three over two perfect innings of relief. In what was his first home game, the left-hander showed a biting curve that missed six bats, along with a 90-91 mph fastball.
Chris Dula: Gave up two hits during his lone inning of the game in the seven, but arguably had his best stuff of the season. He started the inning by striking out Erison Mendez with the final pitch of the at-bat being a 97-mph fastball that was low and away to the right-hander. He gave up back-to-back hits – the first an infield hit by Stephen Gaylor to short before Luis Valenzeula smacked a high slider for a single. Dula got out of the inning with a 95-mph sinker that Jordan Edgerton beat into an around-the-horn double play.
Eric Jenkins: Went 3-for-4 for and showed the promise he has to be a legitimate leadoff hitter. He started the first with a bunt up the third-base line that gave Edgerton no chance to make a play. In the fifth, the left-handed hitter turned on fastball for a sharp, ground-ball single to right. In the eighth, it was a slider the Jenkins nailed hard to right. Jenkins has reached base five times in nine trips over the two games he’s played the series. He’s shown for now the ability to catch up to fastballs but stay back on secondary pitches.
Jairo Beras: Continued a strong second half (308/.349/.467) with two hits and a walk. He laid off a couple of close breaking pitches to get the base-on-balls in the second. A slider in was rapped hard for a double to left in the fourth, as was an inside fastball in the sixth. The lone out came in the eighth when he lined a fastball to second.
Dylan Moore: Singled in the third and walked in the fifth to go with a hit in his Crawdad debut on Friday.
Eric Jenkins: As talented a hitter as he’s shown in two games, several aspects of his game need work, especially in the outfield. After misreading two fly balls on Thursday, he nearly played a fly to left into a hit in the second. Braxton Davidson hit a soft liner that sent Jenkins back a couple of steps before he reversed course to make a running catch in shallow left. He cost the Crawdads a run on the eighth when he stayed at third during a 1-6-3 double play. His athletic talent is there, but how well can he pick up some of the technical side of the game?
Baserunning: Jenkins gaffe aside, the Crawdads had a couple of other blunders on the base paths. Manager Corey Ragsdale was overly aggressive in sending Beras on Moore’s third-inning single. Right fielder Braxton Davidson’s throw easily beat Moore to the plate, as he was tagged by the catcher Murphy before he got to the batter’s box… Beras was caught stealing in the sixth as he broke for second with pitcher Trevor Belicek still in the stretch. Belicek calmly stepped off the rubber and threw to second for the easy out.
Austin Pettibone: Had a decent outing, save the two homers. Stayed almost exclusively with a fastball (90-91) and slider with a rare change tossed in. He need only 24 pitches to get through three innings and with any luck would’ve been out of the fourth with little trouble. With two outs and a runner at first, Pettibone’s 0-2 slider was chopped slowly up the line by Luke Dykstra, who beat out the play at third. He then battled Murphy for eight pitches before Murphy turned a 91-mph pitch into a liner the cleared the fence in the leftfield corner. Murphy was able to pick up both fastball and slider, but never saw a change. In the sixth, Tellor whipped a flat slider of the wall in right-center .
The Hickory Crawdads scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings and took a rain-shortened 5-0 win over the Rome (Ga.) Braves Friday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.
With the win, the Crawdads (79-56 overall, 35-32 second half) assured themselves a tenth-straight half-season of .500 or higher baseball. Hickory is also one win away from a second-straight, 80-win season. It would be the first time the team achieved back-to-back 80-plus wins in a season since the team did it three straight times from 2002 to 2004.
The shutout was the tenth of the season, the sixth time the team has posted double-digit shutouts in a season. Four of the six seasons have come during the six years of the affiliation with the Texas Rangers. Hickory has posted at least eight shutouts in all seven seasons of the affiliation. The team posted only five such seasons the previous 16 seasons.
The loss dropped Rome (57-80, 26-41) into a virtual tie for last place in the Southern Division. The Braves are seeking to avoid a second-straight last place finish, which would be the fifth time in eight seasons Rome has done so.
After a scoreless first, the Braves missed an opportunity to open the scoring in the second. Facing Shane McCain, Jordan Edgerton lined a double off the wall in left-center. One out later, Luke Dykstra walked and Tanner Murphy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, McCain got Joseph Daris to ground to third to end the inning.
Hickory jumped ahead in the bottom of the inning. Jose Trevino bounced a single up the middle and Luke Tendler walked. Jairo Beras then reached out and bounced a Sean Furney fastball through the hole at second to score Trevino. Jose Cardona’s grounder to second scored Tendler from third for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Carlos Arroyo began the inning with a single. After Furney’s wild pitch pushed Arroyo to second, Jurickson Profar lined a double off the wall in left-center to make it 3-0 after Arroyo scored. One out later, Trevino doubled off the wall in left to score Profar.
Rome’s last chance to score came in the fourth when it put two on after two were out. However, Murphy fouled out to first to curtail the threat.
A thunderstorm that approached from beyond centerfield throughout the game finally reached the stadium in the fifth. The Braves quickly went down in order quickly with the final out coming on a grounder by Omar Obregon to short as a heavy rain began to fall. The game was called 43 minutes later.
Luis Ortiz: Threw a 14-pitch first inning to retire the side. His fastball sat at 95-97 with a mid 80s slider and one change. He needed nine pitches before finally striking out the left-handed Omar Obregon on a slider.
Jose Trevino: Had a hand in both rallies. Just missed a homer in the second on a high change, then worked the count full before sending a 3-2 fastball up the middle for a single. One inning later he took an 0-2 change off the wall in left.
Jairo Beras: Continues to improve with the ability to handle pitches away. His single in the second was on a fastball low and away that he was able to bounce through the right side for a single.
Jurickson Profar: Ended a six-pitch at-bat in the third by driving a change that was up and away off the wall in left-center.
Dylan Moore: Picked up his first hit with Hickory as the right-handed hitter picked off a slider up and lined it to right.
Shane McCain: Didn’t have his best stuff as he left several sliders up – one that Jordan Edgerton nearly cleared the fence in left – and had iffy fastball control. However, he was able to run fastballs in to both Daris and Murphy to keep the shutout in tact.
Sean Furney: Fastball sat 90-92, but had nothing secondary that were able to throw off the hitters. Hickory was able to pick off changeups and sliders that were left up .
Tanner Murphy: Was a bit slow in blocking both wild pitches by Furney.
Fifth inning: Seemed odd that with rain approaching that it was the Braves hitters that were quick to get off the field. Daris swung through two fastballs before flying out to right. Stephen Gaylor essentially served a first-pitch bunt back to the box before Obregon’s grounder to short ended the inning and, as it turned out, the game. McCain needed only eight pitchers to close out the inning.