The Hickory Crawdads entered Thursday night's game looking for the 3-game sweep over the Hagerstown Suns, but the 'Dads 3-1 lead disappeared in the 7th as the Suns rallied to defeat Hickory
5-3 at Municipal Stadium. C.J. Edwards of the Crawdads and Brett Mooneyham of the Suns combined to keep the offenses at bay early on, with both teams resorting to small ball to get on the board.
Hickory struck first in the third inning, when first baseman Ronald Guzman drove in Nick Urbanus with an RBI groundout to give the 'Dads a 1-0 advantage. The lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth, when the Suns tied up the game at 1-1 on an RBI safety squeeze bunt by shortstop Wes Schill.
The Crawdads responded with a tally in the top of the sixth, as Ryan Rua scored on a double play ground out from Jordan Akins to put Hickory back on top 2-1. The 'Dads pushed their advantage to 3-1 with another run in the top of the seventh, this time on an RBI single by Guzman.
Edwards' game ended after the sixth, with the right-hander allowing only one run on five hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale brought in lefty reliever Joe Burns to start the 7th, but the normally reliable southpaw struggled with his command.
The Suns rallied against Burns and eventually Jose Leclerc, scoring four runs on three hits and three walks to take a 5-3 lead. The Crawdads picked up hits in both the eighth and ninth frames, but were unable to rally resulting in a 5-3 loss.
Burns (2-3) took the loss for the Crawdads after allowing four runs over his 0.2 innings pitched. Hagerstown reliever Ronald Pena (4-3) earned the win with one run allowed on four hits during his two innings pitched. Fellow reliever Gilberto Mendez (4) got the save with a scoreless ninth.
David Lyon led the 'Dads offense, finishing with a 3-3 night with a walk. Guzman finished with the only RBIs, going 1-4 with 2 runs driven in.
The loss snaps the Crawdads (13-7) 5-game winning streak, but the club still leaves town with the series win over the Suns (13-8) two games to one. The 'Dads also maintain a half game lead over the Suns in the Northern Division.
The Crawdads will now head to Lakewood, NJ for the first and only time this year to begin a 4-game series with the BlueClaws. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 pm.
NOTES: The Crawdads home run total still sits at 130 for the year. The single-season Crawdad record is 135 home runs while the SAL record stands at 173.....The Crawdads will be on the road for the next four days in Lakewood, before returning home on Wednesday, July 17th to start a 7-game home stand at Crawdads Stadium....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: David Lyon, Hickory Crawdads