The Hickory Crawdads found themselves in a late inning situation with a chance to take the lead vs. the Savannah Sand Gnats for the second straight night Saturday, but for the second straight night the 'Dads came up just short resulting in a 2-1 loss to the 'Gnats at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the 8th, Hickory got consecutive singles by Janluis Castro and Evan Van Hoosier to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out. Following a failed bunt attempt by Luis Marte that resulted in the first out of the frame and the ejection of 'Dads interim manager Casey Candaele, Ryan Cordell came through with an infield hit to load the bases with only one out for the Crawdads leading RBI man Nomar Mazara. Savannah turned to left-handed reliever Paul Paez to face the 'Dads lefty slugger, with the lefty-lefty win going to the pitcher as Mazara grounded into an inning-ending double play to squelch the rally.
Offense was at a premium for both clubs throughout the game, with Savannah being held to two runs on 10 hits, eight singles, while Hickory produced their lone run on seven hits, six of them singles. DH Matt Oberste paced the Sand Gnats offense for the second straight night with a 2-3 game that included a double, walk, and run scored. Cordell (3-4, 2B, RBI) and Van Hosier (3-4, R) single handedly tried to carry the 'Dads bats, with the tandem collecting six of the Crawdads seven hits.
The 'Gnats took the lead in the 2nd inning, when Oberste produced one of his team's two extra base hits with a double to left off of 'Dads starting pitcher Anyelo Leclerc. Two batters later, Jorge Rivero singled to right to plate Oberste for a 1-0 score. Savannah doubled their lead to 2-0 with their other extra base hit in the 5th, this time with shortstop Yeixon Ruiz lining a solo home run to right for his first long ball of the season.
The Crawdads broke up the shutout in the 6th against Savannah starter Dario Alvarez when Van Hoosier reached on an infield single to start the frame before Cordell drove him in with a RBI single to make the score 2-1. The 'Dads threatened in the 8th before coming up empty in the frame and going down in order in the 9th against Sand Gnats All-Star close Akeel Morris for the final 2-1 score.
Alvarez (6-0) earned the win for the 'Gnats with one run allowed on three hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts over 5.1 innings pitched. Leclerc (1-2) was the hard luck loser for the 'Dads with only two runs allowed on seven hits, one walk, and six punch outs during his five innings on the mound. Morris (8) earned the save for the second straight night after striking out the side in the 9th.
The loss guarantees the Crawdads (13-4) a series loss for the first time since being swept by Hagerstown in the first week of May. The 'Dads will look to hop back in the win column and salvage their series with the Sand Gnats (13-4) in the third and final game Sunday night at 5:00 pm.
Crawdads Home Stand: The Crawdads are home for another four games in the home stand, with tickets still available for great nights like Faith & Family Night (7/6) and Kevin "Bacon Bash" (7/8)! TICKETS
ll-Star Jersey Auction: The Crawdads are auctioning off the authentic, game worn jerseys from this year's South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Hickory! Jerseys from both the Northern and Southern Division players and coaches are up for bid now on the 'Dads online auction page! AUCTION SITE
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