The Hickory Crawdads began their pivotal three game series against the first-place Hagerstown Suns with an impressive showing Friday night. The 'Dads rode the stellar pitching of Yohander Mendez and Anyelo Leclerc to a 5-1 win at L.P. Frans Stadium.
The win leaves the Crawdads four games behind the Suns in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division, with two games left in this series and nine total remaining in the 2014 season. Hickory also trails Greensboro by two games in the wildcard race. Lakewood beat Greensboro 4-0 Friday night.
Crawdads starting pitcher Yohander Mendez held Hagerstown to one run on two hits over five innings pitched; making his first start since going on the disabled list on April 27.
The Suns grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the frst. A walk, two singles, and a sacrifice fly by Spencer Kieboom gave Hagerstown its early lead. But the Crawdads promptly responded in the bottom of the inning when leadoff batter Michael De Leon clubbed his first home run of the season over the left field wall tying the game.
Hickory jumped on top in the third to take a 3-1 lead. The Crawdads combined three hits and an error to score twice. Luis Marte led off the frame with a double to left before De Leon laid down a bunt single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Evan Van Hoosier followed with a tapper back to the mound, but Hagerstown starting pitcher Travis Ott
slipped while fielding the grounder and threw wildly to first base for an error that allowed Marte to score. Two outs later, Joe Jackson plated De Leon on an RBI single into center field.
The Crawdads tacked on an insurance run in the fourth, thanks to Evan Van Hoosier's sacrifice fly; Hickory plated its final tally in the seventh on an RBI single to center by Zach Cone.
De Leon finished the game 2-5 with his first home run, two runs scored, and an RBI. Van Hoosier was 1-3 with two RBI. Marte went 1-4 with a double, he scored a run, with a stolen base.
Mendez (3-0) in his first Hickory outing in nearly four months. Ott (0-2) took the loss for Hagerstown. He surrendered four runs, two earned, on four hits, with two walks, and four strikeouts in five innings. Leclerc picked up his third save of the season with four scoreless innings of relief out of the bullpen.
Game two will be played tonight with first pitch scheduled at 7:00 p.m.
Crawdads Final Home Stand: The Crawdads only have TWO home games left in the 2014 season! Don't miss out on Team Card Set Giveaway (8/23) and Fan Appreciation Night/Team Jersey Auction (8/24)! TICKETS
All-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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Photo Courtesy: Evan Van Hoosier, Hickory Crawdads