The Hickory Crawdads looked good early in Sunday evening's game in Greensboro with the 'Dads jumping out to a 4-0 lead through three innings, but the red-hot Grasshoppers stormed back with six unanswered tallies to hand Hickory a 6-5 loss at NewBridge Bank Park.
The Crawdads took advantage of three early Greensboro errors and jumped on former major league pitcher Dustin Moseley for a pair of runs in the 1st and two more in the 3rd to take their first lead of the series. The Grasshoppers responded however with one run in the 3rd, two in the 4th, one more in the 5th, and two final tallies in the 6th to erase the deficit and take a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The loss is the fourth straight for the 'Dads and drops the team five games back of the Grasshoppers in the tightly contested South Atlantic League Northern Division.
A Hickory offense that had been held to three total runs while dropping the first two games against Greensboro looked revitalized in the 1st, as leadoff hitter Michael De Leon lined the first pitch of the ballgame into center field for a single. Following a fielder's choice groundout that retired De Leon and placed Evan Van Hoosier at first, Nomar Mazara ground a double inside the first base bag to score Van Hoosier all the way from first. Mazara would also take third base on the play thanks to a throwing error by Grasshoppers right fielder Coco Johnson before scoring on a RBI groundout by Joe Jackson for a 2-0 Crawdads lead.
The advantage doubled to 4-0 in the 3rd when the 'Dads used two hits and two more 'Hoppers errors to score two more runs. Luis Marte started the frame with an infield single, followed by a throwing error by Greensboro shortstop TJ Riddle to put De Leon aboard. Van Hoosier once again reached on a fielder's choice to retire De Leon at second and move Marte to third, before Mazara came through again with a RBI single to plate Marte. The play also included another error by Johnson in right who overran the ball and allowed Van Hoosier to score from first for the frame's second run.
The Grasshoppers began to chip away at the Hickory lead with a RBI sacrifice fly from Brian Anderson in the bottom of the 3rd and a 2-out, 2-RBI single by Carlos Lopez in the 4th to cut the score to 4-3. The 'Hoppers completed the comeback in the 5th when a throwing error by Crawdads reliever Ryne Slack allowed Juan Avila to score the tying run.
Greensboro finally overtook Hickory in the 6th, when Lopez came through again with a 2-run home run to right off of Slack that gave the 'Hoppers their first lead of the night at 6-4. The Crawdads were able to narrow the deficit to 6-5 with another Grasshoppers error and a RBI single from De Leon in the 7th, but the Greensboro bullpen held the line from there to end the game with a 6-5 'Dads loss.
Mazara finished the night 2-4 with a double, two RBIs, and an intentional walk, while De Leon went 2-5 with a RBI. Lopez paced the Grasshoppers attack with a 3-5 game including his 8th homer of the season and four total RBIs.
Slack (6-2) took the loss for the 'Dads after allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits over 2.1 innings pitched. 'Hoppers reliever Ramon Del Orbe (2-1) earned the win after holding Hickory to one unearned run on two hits during his three frames on the mound, while fellow bullpen arm Miguel Del Pozo pitched a perfect 9th with two strikeouts for his second save of the year.
The Crawdads (16-15) will try to avoid the sweep and salvage the fourth and final game against the Grasshoppers (21-10) Monday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.