Hickory Crawdads pitchers Luis Ortiz and Tyler Smith took a combined no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Kannapolis Intimidators Wednesday night. The 'Dads lost the no-no and the shutout in the 9th, but still held on for a 2-1 victory and a corresponding series win over the Intimidators at CMC-NorthEast Stadium.
Ortiz started the game with three hitless innings pitched while making his Crawdads debut. The Texas Rangers 2014 first round draft pick struck out two and walked one before handing the ball over to Smith in the 4th. Making his first relief appearance since May 11th, Smith cruised through the 8th inning while allowing just two base runners on a walk and an error. Kannapolis second baseman Christian Stringer broke up the no-hit bid in the bottom of the 9th however, as the left-handed hitter pulled a ground ball single just past Hickory second baseman Michael De Leon to lead off the frame.
The Intimidators parlayed that hit into a 9th inning rally when right fielder Jacob Morris lined a 2-out, RBI double over Jairo Beras' glove in right to cut the score to 2-1, but Smith was able to finish the game with a groundout by catcher Zach Fisher to preserve the 'Dads win.
The only Crawdads offense on the night came in the top of the 1st, when Joe Jackson roped a RBI double to right before Zach Cone drove in a second run with a RBI sacrifice fly to left for a 2-0 Hickory lead. That was enough for Ortiz and Smith though, as the duo made the 1st inning offense hold up by holding Kannapolis to just one run on two hits, tying a season-low for fewest hits allowed.
Smith (6-3) earned the win after allowing one run on two hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over six innings out of the bullpen. Intimidators starter Robinson Leyer (5-8) took the hard-luck loss with two runs given up on five hits, three walks, and five strikeouts over six innings pitched.
The Crawdads (26-20) win the series over the Intimidators (24-22) two games to one with the victory, while also finishing their season series with a 13-11 record against Kannapolis. The 'Dads will now return home for a 4-game series against the first place Greensboro Grasshoppers over the weekend, with first pitch on Thursday scheduled for 7:00 pm at L.P. Frans Stadium.