Someone found a way, at least for one night, to slow down the Hickory Crawdads. Despite a four-run rally in the eighth inning, the Savannah Sand Gnats hung on to beat the Crawdads 9-7 at L.P. Frans
Trailing 8-1, the Crawdads (54-32 overall; 13-3 second half of the South Atlantic League season), who had their seven-game winning streak halted with Friday night's loss, chipped away with two runs in the sixth and four more in the eighth. They had the tying run on second with nobody out, but All-Star closer Akeel Morris squleched the rally in the eight before he shut down the Crawdads in the ninth.
Joe Jackson and Travis Demeritte led the way offensively for the Crawdads. They were both 2-5 with a solo home run. Ryan Cordell ended the game 1-4 with a double, two RBI and a walk. Jairo Beras also posted a multi-hit game, going 2-5 to extend his hit streak to eight games.
Savannah (56-26; 12-4), riding an eight-game winning streak, jumped out to an early lead in this battle of first-place teams. The Sand Gnats scored early and often and led 8-1 by the fourth inning.
Losing pitcher Tyler Smith (4-2) was victimized as he gave up three runs in the first and two more in the second for a 5-1 lead. Savannah broke things up with three more runs in the fourth. The 'Dads also victimized themselves during this stretch by committing four costly errors.
Demeritte scored Hickory's first run in the second inning. He singled and eventually scored on an error by 'Gnats shortstop Yeixon Ruiz.
The Crawdads' bullpen finally settled thngs down. The trio of Felix Carvallo, Kevin Pucetas, and Jose Valdespina combined for 5.2 solid innings of relief that included two runs allowed on two hits. In turn, Hickory got back in the game with a pair of solo home runs in the sixth inning by Jackson, his fourth of the year, and Demeritte his 17th, to cut the score to 8-3.
The rally continued two innings later in the eighth, when the first five Crawdads batters reached base and they scored four runs to pull the 'Dads within a run at 8-7. Kellin Deglan walked, Jairo Beras and Ronald Guzman both singled, and two runs scored on a pair of wild pitches by Sand Gnats reliever Bret Mitchell. That made it 8-5. Luis Marte followed with a single. and Cordell delivered the major blow with a two-run double to left.
The comeback stalled when Mitchell induced popups from Michael De Leon and Jackson before a diving stop by Savannah second baseman Jonathan Johnson took a game tying hit away from Nomar Mazara to end the inning. The 'Gnats added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Smith coughed up seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits over 4.1 innings. Savannah starter Ricky Knapp (3-5) earned the win; Morris earned his seventh save of the year after recording the final four outs of the game.
The Crawdads and the Sand Gnats go at it again Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
Crawdads Home Stand: The Crawdads are home for another five games in the home stand, with tickets still available for great nights like Red Out Night (7/5), Faith & Family Night (7/6) and Kevin "Bacon Bash" (7/8)! TICKETS
Red Out Night: Fans can get a FREE ticket to tomorrow's (7/5) game by wearing red to the ballpark for the Crawdads Red Out Night! Fans can also get a FREE meal voucher by donating blood at the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas mobile unit before the game! PROMOTIONS
Stay Connected: Make sure to stay connected with the Crawdads by visiting the 'Dads website at www.hickorycrawdads.com, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter!