The Hickory Crawdads didn't return home until the wee hours of the morning on Thursday but appeared no worse for wear, as the 'Dads shook off their bus lag and defeated the visiting Delmarva
Shorebirds 5-4 in front of 17,01 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The Hickory offense was once again led by third baseman Joey Gallo, who continued his torrent streak with a 3-4 night including his Minor League leading 21st home run of the year. Gallo has now slugged six homers over the last three days and five games.
It was Gallo's long ball that kicked off the scoring in the third, as the left-handed power hitter launched a ball over the batter's eye in center field to give the Crawdads a 1-0 lead. The advantage swelled to 3-0 later in the inning when teammate Ryan Rua went yard as well, lining a 2-run homer to right.
The Shorebirds would quickly cut into the 'Dads advantage in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs on three hits off of Hickory starting pitcher Luis Parra to make the score 3-2.
The Crawdads would answer back in the bottom of the fifth, once again led by Gallo who lined an RBI double off the wall in right-center to plate Luis Marte and push Hickory's lead to 4-2. Gallo would score one batter later, this time using some head's up base running to make the score 5-2. What normally would have been a routine ground out to second by Nick Williams instead turned into an RBI, as Gallo never stopped running from second base and came all the way home with Delmarva obliviously holding the ball at first.
The game would tighten back up in the seventh, with Delmarva scoring two more runs on three hits against Hickory reliever Joe Burns to cut the 'Dads lead to 5-4. With All-Star reliever Alexander Claudio unavailable, Hickory manager Corey Ragsdale went to Cody Kendall who worked his way through two scoreless innings to give the Crawdads their 5-4 win. Joining Gallo's good night offensively was first baseman Ronald Guzman who went 3-4 with a double, while Rua finished the game 1-3 with a home run, 2 RBI and a walk.
Parra (2-1) earned the win for the 'Dads after holding the Shorebirds to two runs on seven hits, one walk and two strikeouts in his five innings pitched. Delmarva starter Matt Taylor (3-6) took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits during his six frames on the mound. Kendall picked up his 6th save for his two shutout innings.
The win pushes the Crawdads (38-29) Northern Division lead to one game over Hagerstown, who had their game against Lakewood rained out. The Shorebirds fall to 28-36 with the loss. The 'Dads and 'Birds will match up again Friday night in game two of their four-game series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.
NOTES: The Crawdads stay at home for three more games against the Shorebirds over the weekend. Friday is Superhero Night, Click it or Ticket Night and Fireworks Night! Saturday is a special T-Shirt Giveaway with the first 1,000 fans with paid admission taking home a FREE Crawdads shirt courtesy of Duck Graphics and Big Dog 92.1. It's also Barkley Baseball Clinic, North Carolina Education Lottery and Catawba Science Center Night and a Community Blood Center of the Carolinas Blood Drive. Finally on Sunday, it's the Car Show Cruise-In, Craw"DADS" Night, Prostate Cancer Awareness Night and Splash Day at the ballpark....Individual Tickets for all Crawdads home games are available right now at Hickorycrawdads.com or by calling (828) 322-3000! Group outings, corporate partnerships, Buffalo Wild Wings Claw Club memberships and Ticket Books are also available right now by calling the Front Office at (828) 322-3000.
Photo Courtesy: Joey Gallo, Hickory Crawdads