The Hickory Crawdads got the big bats of Joey Gallo and Nick Williams back off the disabled list Thursday night, but the bolstered lineup came up short against the Savannah Sand Gnats resulting in a 6-3 loss at Grayson Stadium.
Gallo, out since July 11, and Williams, missing since August 1, joined teammates Lewis Brinson and Jorge Alfaro as 'Dads to recently come off the DL. The quartet combined to go 5-14 with three RBI, two runs scored and two walks, but received little help from the rest of the lineup.
The Savannah bats, meanwhile, jumped on Crawdads starting pitcher Paul Schwendel for two runs in the third to take an early 2-0 lead. The 'Dads responded with a run in the top of the 5th, when Alfaro doubled off the wall in left and came in on an RBI single by Brinson to cut the score to 2-1.
The Sand Gnats came right back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to chase Schwendel from the game and take a 5-1 advantage. The Hickory hitters rallied once again in the top of the sixth, with Alfaro coming through again with a bases loaded, 2-RBI single to bring the 'Dads to within 5-3.
That would be as close as the 'Dads would get however, as the club failed to score again while the Sand Gnats picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th to end the game with the 6-3 score.
Alfaro finished the night 2-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Brinson went 1-4 with an RBI, Williams 1-4 with a run scored and Gallo 0-2 with two walks and a stolen base.
Schwendel (0-1) took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits over 4.1 IP in his 2013 Crawdads debut. Savannah starter Julio Hilario (7-4) got the win for holding the 'Dads to one run on three hits over his 5 innings on the mound. Reliever Beck Wheeler (15) earned the save after walking three batters and stranding the bases loaded in the 9th.
The Crawdads (26-21) and Sand Gnats (24-19) will match up again Friday in game two of their 4-game series at 7:05 pm.
NOTES: The Crawdads season home run total sits at 149, just 24 away from the South Atlantic League record of 173 home runs in a season.....The Crawdads stay on the road for a three more games in Savannah against the Sand Gnats before returning home for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday, August 13th.....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: Nick Williams (left), Hickory Crawdads