The Hickory Crawdads stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games Wednesday night, as 'Dads pitchers Tyler Smith, Anyelo Leclerc, and Josh McElwee led the team to a 5-3 win and a series sweep over the Delmarva Shorebirds at Arthur W. Purdue Stadium.
The Hickory hurlers bent but didn't break in the victory, as Smith, Leclerc and McElwee held the Shorebirds to three runs on 10 hits, striking out six combined batters while issuing no walks. That gave the 'Dads bats room to work, combining eight hits with five walks to score five runs.
The Crawdads took a lead in the 1st when Michael De Leon doubled down the left field line with one out, followed three batters later by a RBI single from Ryan Cordell for a 1-0 advantage. That lead held until the third, when Delmarva center fielder Gregory Lorenzo lined his first home run of the season over the left field wall to tie the score at 1-1.
The 'Dads quickly responded with a pair of tallies in the 4th, as Cordell scored on a wild pitch before Travis Demeritte brought in Ronald Guzman with a RBI infield single to put Hickory back up 3-1. The Shorebirds turned to the long ball again in the bottom of the frame, when Chance Sisco connected on a solo blast to right to narrow the score to 3-2.
That would be the last run Smith would allow, as the Crawdads starting pitcher finished with two runs allowed on six hits, no walks, and three strikeouts over five innings pitched. Hickory turned to Leclerc in the 6th, with the right-hander shutting the 'Birds down over the next two frames to maintain the 'Dads one-run advantage.
The Crawdads gave themselves some breathing room in the top of the 8th, as Joe Jackson extended his hitting streak to 15-straight games when he doubled home De Leon on a ball down the right field line. Four batters later, Demeritte lined a ball off the infield umpire to plate Jackson and put the 'Dads up 5-2.
Delmarva scrapped across one last run in the 8th off of Leclerc, before McElwee shut the door with a perfect frame in the 9th to give Hickory the 5-3 win.
Smith (3-1) earned the win for his solid start, while McElwee recorded his third save of the year with two strikeouts in the final frame. Shorebirds starter Mitch Horacek (4-6) took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts over six innings pitched.
Demeritte led the Crawdads offense with a 2-4 game including two RBIs. De Leon finished 2-4 as well, scoring twice and walking once.
The Crawdads (38-27) have now swept three consecutive series and are 24-8 since losing their last series in early May. The 'Dads will look to keep the streak going Thursday when they open up a four game set in Lakewood against the BlueClaws, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm.