Game story

Late Rally for Crawdads Douse Fireflies

The Hickory Crawdads rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night to defeat the Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies 4-3 in the first of a four-game, weekend series in the South Atlantic League.

The Crawdads (38-22) won their second straight and are now 3-1 during the final homestand of the first half. Despite the win, the first-half, Northern Division title hopes continued to fade as Delmarva (Md.) took a 3-2 win in extra innings over in-state rival Hagerstown. Hickory remains 7.5 games out with ten to play and the elimination number dropped to three.

Ronny Mauricio, who plagued Hickory throughout the night, capped a 3-for-4 night with his second home run of the season in the eighth to put the Fireflies up 3-2.

Facing reliever Jose Moreno (2-2), the Crawdads got even when Sherten Apostel hit a high, arching shot just over the fence in right for his eighth of the season to tie the game. Moreno then hit Pedro Gonzalez with a pitch before Matt Whatley joined Gonzalez on the bases with a single.

Melvin Novoa was given the task to advance the runners on a bunt, but fell into a 1-2 hole, with the second pitch hitting his hand on the bat as he tried to avoid a pitch up and in. Novoa hit the next pitch down the line and off the wall in the left-field corner for a double that scored Gonzalez to end the game.

Pitching by both sides dominated much of the game, although Columbia had a quick spurt at the start. Mauricio pulled a 1-2 pitch into the right-field corner for a double and went to third when Pedro Gonzalez bobbled the play. Hansel Moreno cashed in the unearned run with a sacrifice fly to left.

From there, Crawdads starter Tim Brennan retired the next 13 in a row. The right-hander allowed struck out six and allowed five hits over 6.2 innings.

Columbia starter Thomas Szapucki worked around a bases-loaded jam in the first. Kole Enright singled before Miguel Aparicio and Apostel each walked. A quick mound visit settled Szapucki, who then struck out Gonzalez and induced Whatley to hit into a double play.

Colin Holderman took over in the third and Hickory put up single runs the next two innings. Enright and Aparicio singled to place runners on the corners before Apostel’s sacrifice fly brought in Enright.

The Crawdads manufactured a run to take a 2-1 lead and it started with a walk to Whatley. The Crawdads catcher stole his 14th base of the season before moving to third on a wild pitch. Jose Almonte’s single put the Crawdads ahead.

Columbia got even in the sixth with Mauricio against playing a role. With one out, he split the gap in left-center for a double and scored on Hansel Moreno’s single.

Brennan ran into trouble in the seventh, as Columbia threatened to take the lead. After two outs, Brian Sharp and Hayden Senger each singled, which ended Brennan’s night.

Kelvin Gonzalez was brought in, and after three straight balls to Taylor Lane, a grounder to third put down the threat.

Other than Mauricio’s homer, Kelvin Gonzalez held the Fireflies to just a walk and struck out two over 2.1 innings for the win (2-0).

Series Preview

Series Preview: Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs at Hickory Crawdads May 11-13

Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees) (19-15, first place, South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (22-11, tied for second place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads continue their homestand with a three-games series at L.P. Frans against the Charleston RiverDogs.



WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.


Saturday: Charleston at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Murder Mystery Night, Replica Jersey Giveaway (1st 1,000 fans), Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge).

Sunday: Charleston at Hickory, 3:00 p.m. Church Bulletin Sunday (Bring a church bulletin to the ticket office and receive a $6 ticket with $4 from each ticket donated back to the respective church), Teacher Appreciation Night (School staff receive a free ticket with a valid ID badge), Craw-moms day.

Monday: Charleston at Hickory, 10:30 a.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.



The Crawdads went 7-4 against the RiverDogs in 2018, but it was the road team that succeeded most of the time. Charleston started off with a 3-1 series win at L.P. Frans early in the season before Hickory returned the favor later in the year. Hickory then swept a three-game series in late July through early August. The Crawdads are 31-24 against the Yankees affiliate at home since 2009, 57-49 overall.


PROBABLES (Charleston/ Hickory)

Saturday: RHP Alexander Vizcaino vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Sunday: RHP Luis Medina vs. LHP Tim Brennan

Monday:  RHP Roansy Contreras vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez



Though the Crawdads have the second best record in the SAL, they are four games behind Delmarva (Md.) in the Northern Division, as the teams reach the halfway mark of the first half-season. However, Hickory is 9-7 at home and that is coming off the first series loss of the year to Asheville, which took two of three.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley (.182/.333/.222) or Melvin Novoa; 1B Curtis Terry (.271/.331/.576); 2B Frainyer Chavez (.265/.351/.289); 3B Sherten Apostel (.184/.263/.282); SS Jonathan Ornelas (.347/.413/.490); LF: Tanner Gardner (.192/.214/.423); CF: Pedro Gonzalez (.237/.315/.485); RF: Jose Almonte (.170/.216/.298)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – tied for 4th homers (7)

Jonathan Ornelas – 4th batting avg. (.347), 6th OBP (.413), 9th hits, 9th OPS (.903).

Curtis Terry – 1st doubles (15), tied for 1st RBI (29), tied for 3rd total bases, tied for 4th home runs (7), 7th slugging pct. (.576), 8th OPS (.907)

Matt Whatley – 2nd walks, tied for 6th stolen bases (11)

Individual pitching:

Tim Brennan – 2nd WHIP (0.73)

Hans Crouse – Tied for 9th home runs allowed (4).

Scott Engler – Tied for 9th saves (3)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.242 (4th)/ .310 (8th)/ .417 (1st)/ .727 (3rd).

Other key rankings: 2nd home runs, 2nd total bases, 3rd stolen bases, 4th runs, 1th doubles, 12th walks,

Team Pitching:

1st ERA (2.87), 2nd WHIP (1.11), fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest hit batters, 2nd fewest walks allowed.

WHO’S HOT (Last 10 games)

Hitting: Jonathan Ornelas (.349/.404/.442/.846, 12-game hitting streak); Frainyer Chavez (4 SBs, .394/.444/.324/.869)

Pitching: Tim Brennan (1 start, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 7 K); Scott Engler (3 games, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R 1 BB, 13 K); Yerry Rodriguez (2 starts, 11 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 19 K).


The RiverDogs took 2 of 3 at home against Columbia and overall won 11 of the last 14. Charleston is 11-6 on the road.

Manager: Julio Mosquera (2nd season)

Prospects – Charleston (rankings by

RHP Roansy Contreras No. 10

RHP Luis Gil No. 13

RHP Luis Medina No. 14

C Josh Breaux No. 15

RF Josh Stowers No. 25

Possible Lineups: C: Josh Breaux (.307/.344/.557) or Eduardo Navas (.146/.217/.364); 1B: Mickey Gasper (.284/.376/.473); 2B: Kyle Gray (.232/.339/.343); 3B: Wilkerman Garcia (.292/.309/.492); SS: Eduardo Torrealba (.240/.282/.281); LF: Canaan Smith (.307/.388/.466); CF: Brandon Lockridge (.220/.270/.371); RF: Josh Stowers (.308/.396/.429)

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Josh Breaux – Tied for 4th RBI (25); tied for 6th HRs (6), 8th Slugging pct. (.557), 10th OPS (.901).

Brandon Lockeridge – Tied for 7th doubles (10)

Josh Stowers – Tied for 3rd doubles (11), tied for 9th steals (8), 10th OBP (.396)

Individual pitching:

Luis Gil – Tied for 5th strikeouts, tied for 8th walks

Luis Medina – 2nd walks, tied for 8th hit batters

Jio Orozco – 7th ERA (1.83), tied for 8th hit batters

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .239 (5th) / .310 (9th)/ .364 (6th)/ .675 (7th).

Other key rankings: 1st strikeouts, 3rd hits, tied for 4th HRs (23), 6th runs,

Team pitching:

1st hit batters, 2nd strikeouts, 2nd fewest HRs allowed (15), 6th WHIP (1.22), 8th ERA (3.57),

NOTES OF INTEREST: Tyree Thompson was brought up from extended spring to start for Hickory on Saturday… C Sam Huff and LHP John King were both promoted to High-A Down East…  RHPs Kelvin Gonzalez and Nick Starr were assigned to Hickory from extended spring… OF Miguel Aparicio was brought off the injured list.