The Greenville Drive and the Hickory Crawdads were scoreless after nine innings at Fluor Field on Tuesday night, but it was the Crawdads that came out on top, 4-3, after 12 in the series opener.
Pitching was the story through regulation, as neither team managed to get on the board through the first nine frames. Drive starter Thad Ward worked 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits with seven strikeouts against a lone walk. The righty retired the final 14 batters he faced and did not allow a hit after the third inning.
On the other side, Hickory starter Tai Tiedemann and reliever Scott Engler combined to allow just three hits with eight strikeouts against one walk through the first eight innings of the contest.
Hickory broke through in the 10th with a pair of runs. With a runner starting the inning on second, Jose Almonte laced a one-out triple to center to score the first run of the game. Miguel Aparicio followed with a sac fly to left to plate Almonte and give the Crawdads a 2-0 lead.
Greenville answered in the bottom of the 10th. With a runner starting at second, Triston Casas doubled to center to bring in the first Drive run. After Casas moved to third on a wild pitch, Tyler Esplin singled to right to score him and tie the game at 2-2.
After a scoreless 11th for both sides, Hickory added two more in the 12th. With runners on the corners, Sherten Apostel hit a sac fly to right to bring in one. Two batters later, a fielder's choice by Aparicio brought in a second run, making it a 4-2 lead.
The Drive attempted a rally in the bottom half. With position player Tyler Depreta-Johnson pitching for Hickory, Devlin Granberg singled to right on the first pitch he saw, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters later, Esplin singled to right, scoring Jordan Wren from third, to cut the lead to 4-3 with two on and one out. Back-to-back flyouts ended the inning and preserved the 4-3 win for the Crawdads.
Nick Starr (1-0) earned the win in relief, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits with three strikeouts and a walk in 3.0 innings of work. Logan Browning (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits with four strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work.
Esplin paced the Drive on the night with three hits, including a double, and two RBI. Casas doubled with a run and an RBI, while Wren and Granberg accounted for the remaining two Drive runs. Rio Gomez threw 1.2 scoreless innings in relief, allowing just a pair of hits and a walk to go with four strikeouts.
The series continues on Wednesday with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. Drive right-hander Yasel Santana (0-3, 6.05 ERA) goes to the mound for the Drive against Hickory right-hander Ronny Henriquez (0-1, 3.21 ERA).