Game story

Game Story: Savannah at Hickory June 15

The Hickory Crawdads popped two two-run homers and got strong pitching throughout to defeat the Savannah Sand Gnats 4-1 and close out the first-half Northern Division title in the South Atlantic League.

The win by Hickory (41-22) coupled with West Virginia’s 5-2 loss at home to Augusta sent the players into a celebration frenzy in left field as the final out in Charleston, W.Va. was recorded.

The Crawdads took the final three games in the four-game series to close out a 5-2 home stand. Hickory finished the first half 24-10 at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Savannah (34-30) dropped into second place, a game behind Greenville (S.C.) with six games to play in the Southern Division chase.

The Crawdads close out the first half with a six-game road trip starting Tuesday with three games at Rome (Ga.), followed by three at West Virginia.

What happened?:
The Crawdads put up only six hits but four of those came after two outs and led to all four runs.

After the Sand Gnats put up a run in the second, Hickory took a 2-1 lead in the third when Josh Morgan doubled with two outs and scored as Eduard Pinto crushed a 3-1 fastball off the billboards in right.

A similar script with different actors happened one inning later. With two outs, Jairo Beras sent an off-speed pitch through the hole at second. Rock Shoulders followed with a two-run, opposite-field shot to make it 4-1.

Luis Ortiz (4-1) allowed one run on three hits and struck out nine over five innings. Joe Filomeno pitched a scoreless sixth before running into trouble in the seventh. With two outs and a runner at first, Thomas Nido doubled off the wall and Patrick Biondi was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hickory then brought in Austin Pettibone to face SAL all-star second baseman Jonathan Johnson, who pulled a 2-2 slider to first for the 3-1 putout.

Pettibone worked around a single in the eighth before turning it over to John Fasola in the ninth. Fasola struck out the final two batters of the game to complete a 1-2-3 inning and pick up his SAL-high 13th save of the season.

The Good:

Eduardo Pinto: His recent patience at the plate set up the heroics in the third. He ran the count to 3-1, then sat dead red and got an 89 heater from Bruce Meisner that Pinto turned on and sent it well out to right.

Rock Shoulders: Showed a bit of his strength when he put an inside-out swing on Meisner’s first-pitch fastball and sent it high over the fence in left. Made a big play to dig out a throw in the ninth (see below).

Jairo Beras: Seems poised to have a good stretch as he is staying back on secondary pitches, and yet is ready to hit the fastball. Had his second straight two-hit game with one hit coming on a fastball, the other on an off-speed pitch.

Luis Ortiz: Velocity 94-97 throughout, a good cutting slider, but he admitted after the game he didn’t have his best stuff. Said after the game the heat bothered him in the first two innings. But still, nine Ks in five innings (!), mostly coming on sliders and changups. Gassed a 96 mph past Johnson in the third and painted the corner at 97 for a called-strike three to John Mora. Finished the game with 81 pitches (53 strikes).

Austin Pettibone: Got a huge out with the bases loaded in the seventh when he got Johnson to pull a slider to first. K’d two in the eighth, both on sliders low and away to right handers.

John Fasola: Dodged a bullet to start the ninth when Mora lined a pitch hard off Fasola’s glove. Carlos Arroyo charged the ball toward the bag at second and then made an off-balanced throw that Rock Shoulders dug out to the RF side of first and held the bag with his foot. Fasola then gassed up his fastball to 95 and struck out the last two hitters.

The Not-So-Good:

Michael De Leon: Seemed to expand the strike zone in the game. Hitting left handed throughout, he K’d on a fastball away in the third, pulled a fastball in off the plate for a 3-1 grounder in the fifth, and a slider in at the knees for a grounder to first in the seventh.

The Opposition:

Luis Guillorme: Had a brilliant defensive effort both series the Sand Gnats played at L.P. Frans this season. In the sixth, Trevino hit a sharp roller to the hole at short. Guillorme made the backhand play and then the quick transfer for the long jump throw to first and the out.

Jon Leroux: Not sure if he got a slow start at first, or if he himself is slow (I watched the play in the field), but a double off the wall with two outs in the seventh should almost always lead to a run. Was shocked to look up and see him at third.

Game story

Game Story: Savannah at Hickory June 14

The Hickory Crawdads opened up a close game up and battered the Savannah Sand Gnats 8-1. With the win, coupled with a doubleheader sweep, the Crawdads are now 5 ½ games ahead of the Power in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division with seven games to play. Hickory (40-22) would clinch the first-half title on Monday with a win over Savannah and a loss by West Virginia to Augusta.

Savannah (34-29) remained tied with Greenville for first place in the Southern Division chase, both 3 ½ games ahead of Augusta. The Drive hosts Rome Monday night.

What happened?:

The teams battled through five shutout innings on a hot Sunday afternoon. Yohander Mendez threw the first three innings for Hickory (2 H, 4 K) before giving way to Ariel Jurado in the fourth. Ricky Knapp matched the Crawdads with five shutout innings (3 H, 4 K) of his own and then turned the game over to reliever Darwin Frias.

Josh Morgan led off the inning with a walk and scored one out later on Jose Trevino’s team-high ninth homer of the season for a 2-0 lead.

The Sand Gnats answered with a two-out rally in the seventh against Jurado. Vicente Lupo and Joe Tuschak each singled before Adrian Abreu followed with a run-scoring hit to score Lupo. Jurado then got Patrick Biondi to ground out to second for the third out.

The Crawdads loaded the bases to start the seventh. After Michael De Leon struck out, it appeared the inning would end on a double play ball by Morgan. However, Carlos Arroyo’s slide into second forced the throw of Jonathan Johnson’s to first to bounce wide and bring in two runs.

Hickory batted around in the eighth and broke open the game in the eighth. Jairo Beras singled in a run, Arroyo punched in two with a bloop double before De Leon’s RBI single finished the rally.

Jurado lasted five innings for the win (9-0) with just the one run allowed on four hits to go with five strikeouts.

The Good:

Carlos Arroyo: His slide in the second led to two runs, but one could argue it led to six total. The play had a noticeable effect on the team, which had a bit more fire after the play.

Jose Trevino: With three homers and 10 RBI and a take-charge attitude behind the plate, he’s put the team on his back during the homestand.

Yohander Mendez: Fastball (89-92) command was spotty at first, but his curveball was more than enough to baffle the Sand Gnat hitters. Had three swing-and-misses for three of his strikeouts and set up a fourth, which was a 91 mph heater on the outside corner to the right-handed Lupo.

Ariel Jurado: Coming out of the bullpen seemed to have no effect on Jurado as he set the tone early. He began throwing a curveball for the first time during the outing and rang up a couple of Ks with it. Began to leave it up in the seventh – the final two hits were 1-2 curveballs – before going back to his sinker and getting out of the jam.

Josh Morgan: Reached base four of five times, but it was his two defensive plays at third late in the game that stuck out. Both plays involved making back-handed stops on short hops behind the bag before making long throws to first.

Jairo Beras: Two hits on the afternoon, one on a fastball, the other a pulled slider that found a hole.

The Not-So-Good:

David Perez: Threw the ninth for Hickory and struggled with fastball command (16 pitches, seven strikes).

The Opposition:

Darwin Frias/ Jose Leger: For a team that seems more geared to try and win games than to play development baseball (they all try to win, I suppose, but some focus more to the development side) the use of Frias was odd. After a shaky sixth, Frias was left on the mound by the manager Leger for two more innings and had nothing. Breaking pitches were up, sliders had little bite and fastballs were B.P. quality. For a team shooting to make a playoff spot (they made a mid-inning pitching change in the 15th inning here in May), it was an odd choice.

Ricky Knapp: Showed a good three-pitch mix that kept Crawdads off balance during much of his five innings. Struck out Trevino on three straight sliders in the first, each one further off the plate.

Game story

Game Story: Savannah at Hickory June 13

What Happened?:

See my article from the Hickory Daily Record website: Hickory edges Savannah 3-2

The Good:

**Adam Parks: He and his slider own Savannah in 2015. In 6.1 innings against the Sand Gnats in 2015, the Easton, Md. native has 15 Ks and allowed five hits and a walk. By my count, he had 10 missed bats, all on sliders. His strikeout of Luis Guillorme in the fourth kept the score tied, but for me the seventh innings felt like the ballgame.

In the opening game of the series, Savannah answered at the plate one half-inning after all four innings that Hickory scored. The Sand Gnats did so again in the second after the Crawdads broke open the scoring in the first. When the Crawdads took the lead in the sixth, Savannah sent up the top of the order, which included Hickory’s nemesis Jonathan Johnson- who has reached base seven of ten times in the series. Johnson walked to lead off the inning and went to second on a wild pitch. After fouling back two straight 1-2 pitches, Guillorme again struck out against Parks, who then finished off the inning by fanning Wuilmer Becerra and Jon Leroux.

**John Fasola: He completed the final two innings by allowing just a bloop single to pinch-hitter Eudor Garcia. Fasola then picked off the pinch-runner Patrick Biondi before ending the night by getting Johnson to fly out. He’s been working on a change and tonight he picked at least four outs with it (one a fastball, the other may’ve been a slider).

**Jose Trevino: Now with eight RBI during the home stand. Sat dead red on a first-pitch fastball and lined it straight up the middle for what turned out to be the decisive run of the game.

With Alfaro likely out for the year, I can’t help but wonder if Deglan gets a sink-or-swim assignment at Frisco and Trevino follows on the Rangers catching train to High Desert if and when Hickory clinches a playoff spot. It’s his first full season as a full-time catcher (he’s relatively new to the position after playing mostly shortstop at Oral Roberts.)

**Isiah Kiner-Falefa: Made a brilliant stop of Vicente Lupo’s sharp grounder in the ninth. Moving quickly to his left, Kiner-Falefa slid to a quick stop to catch the quick hop, then fired to first to catch the speedy runner. The errant throw aside on a potential double play ball in the fourth, his play at third has been steady. He makes the routine plays with an occasional flash added now and then.

**Luke Tedler: In talking with Rangers minor league hitting coordinator Josue Perez (interview to be posted soon), he mentioned that Tendler has been going back to basics in relearning to get ready for the fastball. After a big swing-and-miss on a slider, Tendler took a slider off the plate and then punished a “hit-me” fastball up the middle. He lined another fastball hard to left in the sixth.

**Eduardo Pinto: Appears to be seeing the ball well at the plate. He earned his 13th walk of the season, seven of those have now come in the last five games. Swung at only two pitches all night, one was a sharp grounder that turned into a double play in the first. The other was a fastball that was rocketed off the wall in RCF for a triple.

The Not-So-Good:

**Brett Martin had poor command of his fastball (90-92, T-95) all night and never really developed a flow or consistent feel for the strike zone overall. Martin needed 69 pitches (39 strikes) to get 10 outs. Has yet to get back into a groove since missing a recent start with a back ailment.

The Opposition:

**Luis Guillorme: There’s a really good group of defensive shortstops in this league (Michael De Leon of Hickory, Ozhaino Albies of Rome, Cole Tucker of West Virginia to name a few). Guillorme is certainly worth watching in the field. In the first, Eduard Pinto smashed a grounder to 1B Adrian Abreu, who made the pick and started the double play. The throw short hopped Guillorme as he crossed the 2B bag. He made the grab of the short hop, quickly made the transfer to the throwing hand and gunned to the first and hit the pitcher Corey Oswalt covering the bag.

**Patrick Biondi: He had one job—stay on base. With the SAL’s leading hitter (Johnson) at the plate, Biondi, who had entered the game as the tying run at first, got picked off before a throw was made home.

Game story

Game Story: Savannah at Hickory June 12

In a see-saw affair, the Savannah Sand Gnats continually answered the Crawdads throughout the night and took an 8-6 win at L.P. Frans on Friday night.

Savannah (34-27) won its tenth in a row and stayed tied with Greenville (S.C.) atop the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division chase. The Drive defeated Rome 10-8.

Despite the loss, the Crawdads (38-22) held onto a 4 ½ game lead over West Virginia, as the Power dropped a 5-4 decision at home to Augusta.

What Happened?:

The Crawdads scored twice in the first to take the early lead against starter Scarlyn Reyes. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Morgan both walked. After Eduard Pinto’s bounce out moved them up 90 feet, Jose Trevino hit a dribbler up the first base line that Reyes ran past as he attempted to cover first. Kiner-Falefa scored on the play with Morgan going to third. A walk to Marcus Greene reloaded the bases with one out before Jairo Beras’ grounder to third scored Morgan.

However, in what turned out to be the theme for the night, Savannah answered in the next half inning. In the second, against starter Nick Gardewine John Leroux singled and scored on John Mora’s triple. One out later, Thomas Nido slapped a liner to left to score Mora.

Nick Gardewine delivers a pitch Friday night vs. Savannah (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)
Nick Gardewine delivers a pitch Friday night vs. Savannah (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

The Sand Gnats retook the lead in the third as Jonathan Johnson (3-5) tripled just under the glove of Tripp Martin at first and scored on a single by Luis Guillorme (2-4).

Trevino’s homer (8) in the third tied it at three, but an error on a pickoff attempt at second by Gardewine lead to a run as J.C. Rodriguez scored from third on a ball in the dirt when Thomas Nido struck out.

Jose Trevino crushed his 8th homer of the season for Hickory (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)
Jose Trevino crushed his 8th homer of the season for Hickory (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Hickory again tied it in the fourth when Tripp Martin (2-4) doubled and was joined on the bases after Jose Cardona was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch advanced both the runners and Martin scored on Kiner-Falefa’s fielder’s choice However, the promising inning ended with Cardona was thrown out at third on the play.

With Kelvin Vasquez replacing Gardewine in the fifth, a passed ball by Greene led to a run in the fifth for Savannah as, Wuilmer Becerra scored on Leroux’s single to make it 5-4.

The Crawdads took what turned out to be their last lead of the night in the sixth when Martin crushed a hanging curveball for a two-run homer (8).

The Sand Gnats answered for the last time in the seventh. Johnson crushed a Vasquez (3-2) fastball over the fence in right for his second homer of the season. After Guillorme singled hard to left, Becerra smacked a two-run shot (8) to right for what turned out to be the final margin.

Paul Paez gave up one hit over two relief innings and Jimmy Duff retired the side on ten pitches in the ninth for his fifth save.

The Good:

*Jose Trevino continued a solid homestand with an RBI single and a homer. He’s now hit in six straight (8-for-22) with three extra-base hits, three runs scored and seven RBI. Trevino’s locked in on the fastball at the moment, and for the most part seeing breaking balls well by either letting them go, or spoiling them.

**Tripp Martin took out the first curveball of the game from Reyes in the sixth – a hanger that gave the Crawdads their last lead of the game at 6-5. He also drove a fastball up and away to the wall in right-center field and was robbed of a hit earlier in the second.

Tripp Martin doubled and smacked a 2-run HR (8) on Friday (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt
Tripp Martin doubled and smacked a 2-run HR (8) on Friday (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

**Joe Filomeno retired all nine batters he faced over the final three innings. Showed a good sinking fastball (91-93) with a slider that had some bite and a change that stayed down. Recorded five groundouts and K’d two.

Joe Filomeno delivers a pitch vs. Savannah on Friday (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)
Joe Filomeno delivers a pitch vs. Savannah on Friday (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

** Eduard Pinto did his job and it saved a run in the first. Johnson stole third with relative ease. When the throw from catcher Marcus Greene went into left, Pinto had already charged in from left to back up the play. The throw went straight the Pinto in shallow left and Johnson had to hold at third.

The Not-So-Good:

**One of the uglier games the Crawdads have played in awhile. Had Reyes on the ropes early, but let him off the hook. Played a bit loose on the bases and got burned. Gave away bases. Unable to hold leads, etc. etc. The post-game locker room was not a happy place following.

**Base running miscues took the Crawdads out of a potential big inning in the fourth With one out and a runner on second and third. Kiner-Falefa hit a roller into the hole at short. Martin easily scored from third, but with no play at first, Guillorme was able to catch Cardona – who had the play in front of him – trying to advance to third. Kiner-Falefa was then caught trying to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt that stayed within a couple of feet of the catcher Thomas Nido, who collected the easy out at second. Pinto singled with two outs in the seventh, but was easily picked off by lefty reliever Paul Paez. It turned out to be the last hope for the ‘Dads in the game.

**Jairo Beras, who was solidly on the ball all night Thursday, was anything but on Friday. Of his three Ks, two came on sliders and the final one was looking at an 89 mph fastball down the middle.

**Nick Gardewine had little consistency with his breaking pitches and paid the price as the Sand Gnats hitters waited for a fastball they could handle and slapped it around the field. Gardewine gave up nine hits, seven on fastballs.

** Kelvin Vasquez had a good slider at times and gassed his fastball 95-97 during his two-plus innings. But the fastball had little movement and so the two homers in the decisive seventh came on 97 and 96 mph pitches down the pike.

**The Crawdads made Reyes throw 30 pitches in the first and loaded the bases twice. They picked up two in the inning, but it seemed like more should’ve been scored. It turned out to be an ancillary theme to the anti-shutdown thread from the pitching staff this evening. It felt like the Crawdads had a chance to blow the game open early, yet didn’t.

The Opposition:

**He’s old (26) for this league, but to his credit, Jonathan Johnson is doing what he should do against younger, more inexperienced pitchers, and that’s smack the ball around the field (.333/.430/.474). Has a short stroke that can irritate a pitcher as he did in the first when the lefty slapped a up-and -away fastball to left. He barreled up a couple of fastballs for XBHs, including Vasquez’s 97 offering that went well into the night.

**Patrick Biondi made one of the better catches in center at LP. Frans by a player not named Brinson or McCutchen that I’ve seen in 11 seasons. Tracking a sharp, slicing liner from Martin in the second, he made a sprint to his left and then pulled off a full extension dive with the glove making the catch just above the grass.

** Savannah didn’t exactly play textbook baseball either. Reyes ran over (literally over) Trevino’s dribbler to cover first. Meanwhile, the first baseman Leroux was already at first awaiting a play. On another play, Guillorme got caught off first on a routine fly to center in the third.

Game story

Savannah at Hickory May 12

The Hickory Crawdads rallied with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Savannah Sand Gnats 9-5 in front of 4,023 fans on an “Education Day” at L.P. Frans Stadium.

With the win, Hickory (22-9) closed out a 3-1 series win over the Sand Gnats (12-19) and completed a 6-1 home stand. The Crawdads lead West Virginia by four games in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division and is now six up on third place Delmarva (Md.).  Now 12-4 at L.P. Frans this season, the Crawdads avoided losing back-to-back games at home for the first time this season.

The Crawdads entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 5-4. Luke Tendler walked to open the inning before the Sand Gnats brought in right-hander Jimmy Duff to face Jose Trevino, who legged out a double to medium left-center. Duff enticed Tripp Martin to hit a comebacker for the first out and then intentionally walked Kevin Torres to load the bases for Jairo Beras.

The strategy was foiled when Beras split the gap for a two-run double. Josh Morgan followed with a sharp liner just inside the bag at third for a two-run single. Isiah Kiner-Falefa doubled, but Morgan was thrown out at home for the second out. Cardona closed out the scoring with an RBI single.

Savannah dented the scoreboard first in the second when it put the first five runners on base against starter Ariel Jurado. Patrick Biondi ripped a two-run single before the Sand Gnats added the third run on a double-play ball.

Facing Sand Gnats starter Corey Oswalt, Kevin Torres lined a homer (2) to right to make it 3-1 and Travis Demeritte added a two-run shot (4) to tie the game in the third.

The Sand Gnats quickly re-took the lead in the fourth on Luis Guillorme’s sacrifice fly that scored Thomas Nido.

Hickory tied the game at 4-all in the fifth when Jose Cardona scored after Travis Demeritte broke up a potential inning-ending double play.

Savannah again pushed ahead with a run in the sixth as Crawdads reliever Kelvin Vasquez gave up a single and back-to-back walks to load the bases. However, Vasquez induced Biondi to hit into a double play, which scored a run, but stifled further damage.

John Fasola worked around a single in the ninth to close out the game. Vasquez got the win (2-1), while Duff was tagged with the loss (0-1).

The Good:

*After struggling with their timing initially, the Crawdads hitters adjusted to the off-speed offerings by Sand Gnats starter Oswalt and took advantage of a flat, mostly sub-90s fastball.

*After tweeting this:

Travis Demeritte hit the next pitch – a flat 88 mph offering from Oswalt – well over the fence left.

*Jose Trevino continues to benefit from a day off on Sunday. He doubled in the fifth – only to see a runner cut down at home – and had a key double to spur the decisive rally in the eighth. Trevino also lined hard to right in the second.

*With a single in the third, Like Tendler has a seven-game hit streak. Josh Morgan went 8-for-17 and five RBI in the series with Savannah. Jose Cardona had 6 hits in the four-game series with two homers, two walks and four runs.

*Ariel Jurado didn’t have his best stuff, but did enough to get through five innings. Twelve of his 15 outs came via a groundball or a strikeout.

*Kelvin Vasquez struggled with control early, but with the bases loaded in the sixth, and a 3-0 count to Biondi, Vasquez battled to get the count full before inducing a double-play ball to held the Sand Gants to one run.

The Not-So-Good

*Jurado’s poor location early was a sign of things to come. He missed badly with a 0-2 fastball in the first that John Mora slapped into center. Jurado then struggled with his secondaries in the second before getting a feel for his curveball and a slider in the third. It was only the third time this season that a Crawdads starting pitcher allowed more than three runs in a start.

*Kelvin Vasquez had a live 94-96 fastball at the start of the sixth, but little control. The Biondi double play gave him new life and he retired the final seven Sand Gnats. Vasquez has 12 walks in 20.2 innings.

*Tripp Martin had a tough afternoon at the plate, especially against Oswalt, who tossed mostly changeups and sliders to Martin. He finished 0-for-4 with only one ground ball getting past the mound. Martin is 4-for-37 in his last nine games.

* Cardona was caught napping on a play in the bottom of the eighth. With Morgan at first, Kiner-Falefa ripped a double into the left-field corner and manager Corey Ragsdale waived Morgan all the way home. Cardona, as the on-deck hitter, was expected to get near home to tell the incoming runner whether or not to slide. Instead, Cardona stayed near the circle and left Morgan out to dry. Unable to see the throw coming from behind him Morgan came into home standing and was tagged out.


The Crawdads have Wednesday off before going to Augusta (Ga.) to take GreenJackets for four games.  Augusta will be only the second plus-.500 team that Hickory has faced this season.

Game story

Savannah at Hickory May 11

The Savannah Sand Gnats broke open a close game with three runs in the ninth to defeat the Hickory Crawdads 6-3.

With the win, Savannah (12-18) snapped a two-game mini-losing streak and broke the Crawdads (21-9) five-game win streak. The teams close out the four-game series with an 11 a.m. start at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Sand Gnats never trailed in the contest after Stefan Sabol’s two-run shot in the first against Crawdads starter Nick Gardewine (2-2).

Jose Trevino (2-for-4) in his first at-bat after a day off cut the Crawdads deficit to 2-1 by serving a Scarlyn Reyes curveball to center that scored Travis Demeritte.

But, the Sand Gnats got the run back in the second when Jonathan Johnson lined a homer into the rightfield corner.

Both teams left opportunities for runs on the board throughout the game. Savannah left 11 on base, while Hickory left seven, hit into two double plays and lost a base runner on a decoy.

Hickory chopped the Sand Gnats lead to 3-2 on Luke Tendler’s (3-for-3, HBP) RBI single.

However, the Sand Gnats took care of sloppy defense in the ninth to score three.

Josh Morgan (2-for-3) singled in Marcus Greene in the ninth and the Crawdads eventually brought the tying run to the plate. However, Ricky Knapp struck out Michael De Leon to end the game.

Reyes allowed two runs over six innings and struck out four for the win (2-3) with Knapp getting the save in his first outing since he was reassigned from high-A St. Lucie.

The Good:

*Jose Trevino appeared to benefit from a day off Sunday. He waited on a curveball and guided it through the first. Trevino legged out a double in the fourth and hit into bad luck in the eighth when he scorched a sharp grounder up the middle that turned into a double play.

*Luke Tendler with three hits has now hit in six straight.

*Josh Morgan had two hits and is 6-for-13 in three games against Savannah.

*Lefty Joe Filomeno impressed in his first outing with Hickory. Pounded 93-94 mph fastball in on the hands of left-handed hitters and then ran several cutters to the other corner. Mixed in a few sliders that missed bats.

The Not-So-Good:

*Save Filomneo, Hickory pitching had a rough night. As a group they walked six and had seven other three-ball counts. Nick Gardewine gave up a seeing-eye hit in the first and then missed his spot with a first-pitch fastball that Sabol pounced on. From there, he never seemed totally comfortable on the mound. He recorded eight groundball outs, but fastball control seemed spotty in and out of the strike zone. Yohander Mendez threw a steady diet of off-speed pitches that he was able to get Sand Gnat hitters to chase, but many others were not close enough to bait more swings. Chris Dula was hit around a bit, but his defense – while not charged with errors – contributed to a three-run ninth.

*While the defense has been stellar much of the year, for the third straight game the infield botched a bunt play that led to a run late. Tonight, a trio of players was slow to the ball between home and the mound and allowed John Mora to reach. On the same play, the lead runner went to third when it went uncovered. Later in the inning, a potential double play was thwarted when Demeritte was slow getting the ball off to short. A passed ball was also a part of the inning, but Cardona’s throw home to catch Wuilmer Becerra ended the inning.

*Jose Cardona was decoyed into an out on the bases. Running to second on De Leon’s single in the fifth, Cardona lost track of the ball and began to return to first. He was thrown out before he could get back to second. Morgan was cut down in the fourth when he tried to advance on a ball in the dirt.

Tomorrow: Ariel Jurado will attempt to win his sixth straight start to begin the season for Hickory as he faces Corey Oswalt (3-0) of Savannah. The 11 a.m. game – an Education Day contest – has been announced as a sellout.