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The Hickory Crawdads offense continued its recent troubles Saturday night, as the 'Dads were held without an extra-base hit en route to a 6-1 loss to the Greensboro Grasshoppers at NewBridge Bank Park.

The Crawdads nine total hits were only one off the 10-hit pace of the Grasshoppers, but Greensboro mixed in a pair of big home runs with their eight singles to provide the difference in the contest. The 'Dads have now dropped three straight games and back-to-back contests against the 'Hoppers to fall four games back in the South Atlantic League Northern Division race.

In almost a mirror image to the start of Friday's game, the Grasshoppers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st thanks to a 3-run homer, this time by All-Star first baseman Felix Munoz off of Hickory starting pitcher Akeem Bostick. The Crawdads responded with a run in the top of the 2nd, with Ronald Guzman driving in Nomar Mazara with a RBI single to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Bostick settled down following the homer in the 1st and kept the score at 3-1 until the 5th, when Greensboro once again utilized the long ball with a solo shot to right by J.T. Riddle for a 4-1 'Hoppers advantage. The Grasshoppers plated the night's final tallies in the bottom of the 7th, when All-Star Austin Dean lined a 2-RBI single to center off of 'Dads reliever Jose Monegro to push the score to 6-1.

Seven of the Crawdads nine hits came from three batters in the lineup, with Evan Van Hooiser going 3-4 with a stolen base, Mazara finishing 2-3 with a walk and a run scored, and Joe Jackson ending the game 2-4.

Greensboro starting pitcher Jose Adames (1-0) earned the win while making his SAL debut, after holding the Crawdads to one run on eight hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 5.2 innings pitched. Bostick (5-6) took the loss for the 'Dads with four runs given up on five hits, one walk, and two Ks during his five frames on the mound.

Hickory (16-14) will try to bounce back in game three of their four game series in Greensboro (20-10) Sunday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 4:00 pm.

In its inaugural Sun Belt Conference and NCAA Division I FBS campaign, Appalachian State University football has been picked to finish seventh in the 2014 Sun Belt preseason coaches’ poll, the league announced on Saturday.

Appalachian State placed seventh in the preseason balloting with 47 points, edging fellow Sun Belt newcomer Georgia Southern, which was picked to finish eighth with 44 points.

Louisiana-Lafayette was the unanimous choice among the Sun Belt’s coaches to win the 2014 conference championship, followed by Arkansas State, South Alabama, Troy, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas State. After App State and Georgia Southern, Idaho, Georgia State and New Mexico State rounded out the preseason poll.

Appalachian State opens the 2014 campaign on Aug. 30 at Michigan (noon — ESPN2) and plays its first-ever Sun Belt game on Sept. 25 with another nationally televised contest at Georgia Southern (7:30 p.m. — ESPNU).

2014 SUN BELT CONFERENCE PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
1. Louisiana-Lafayette — 121 pts. (11 first-place votes)
2. Arkansas State — 102
3. South Alabama — 98
4. Troy — 84
5. Louisiana-Monroe — 78
6. Texas State — 70
7. Appalachian State — 47
8. Georgia Southern — 44
9. Idaho — 29
10. Georgia State — 27
11. New Mexico State — 26

Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:12

Crawdads Fall at Greensboro

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It was a tough night at the plate for the Hickory Crawdads on Friday, as the 'Dads bats continued their recent struggles with a two-run, five-hit performance that resulted in a 6-2 loss to the first place Greensboro Grasshoppers at NewBridge Bank Park.

The Hickory lineup was held hitless through the game's first four innings by Greensboro starting pitcher Cody Crabaugh, who would go on to toss a season-high seven innings while holding the Crawdads to one run on three hits and six strikeouts. Nomar Mazara ended the night as the lone 'Dad with a multi-hit game, going 2-4 with a double, RBI, and run scored.

The contest quickly got off on the wrong foot for the Crawdads, with Grasshoppers second baseman Brian Anderson taking 'Dads pitcher Cole Wiper deep for a 3-run home run in the 1st inning. Wiper settled down after giving up the long ball, as the right-hander kept the score at 3-0 with four scoreless frames following the 1st.

The 'Hoppers added to their lead in the 6th when the 'Dads turned to the bullpen, with right-handed reliever Scott Williams giving up a run on two singles and a wild pitch for a 4-0 Crawdads deficit. The Crawdads got on the scoreboard for the first time in the top of the 7th, when Joe Jackson led off the frame with a double before coming in two batters later on a RBI single by Mazara to cut the score to 4-1.

Greensboro responded in the bottom of the 7th with two more tallies on a 2-RBI double from Felix Munoz to stretch their advantage to 6-1. The 'Dads had one last gasp in the 9th when back-to-back doubles by Mazara and Kellin Deglan brought in the last Hickory run for the final 6-2 score.

Crabaugh (3-1) earned the win for the Hoppers for his standout outing, while Wiper (6-8) took the loss for the 'Dads with three runs allowed on five hits, one walk, and one strikeout over five innings pitched.

The Crawdads (16-13) are now three games behind the Grasshoppers (19-10) in the South Atlantic League Northern Division race. The 'Dads will look to bounce back in game two of the four game series Saturday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:09

McElwee Called Up to Myrtle Beach

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The Texas Rangers announced today that Hickory Crawdads RHP Josh McElwee has been promoted to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, becoming the seventh 'Dad this season to move up in the Rangers organization.

McElwee, 25, leaves Hickory with 57 strikeouts in just 36 innings pitched for a K/9 IP ratio of 14.25, a number that would have led all South Atlantic League relievers if he had enough innings pitched to qualify. A 20th round pick by the Rangers out of the University of South Carolina - Sumter in 2012, McElwee went 2-0 overall with a 4.25 ERA, 6 saves, and a .246 batting average against for the Crawdads this year. McElwee also spent time with the 'Dads in 2013, going 2-1 with a 10.13 ERA and 22 Ks in 13.1 IP.

Replacing McElwee on the Crawdads active roster is RHP Collin Wiles, who began the season with the 'Dads before going on the disabled list on May 18th. Wiles, 20, went 1-2 with a 5.49 ERA over eight appearances, two starts, totaling 19.2 IP for Hickory. A 1st round selection by the Rangers out of Blue Valley West (KS) HS in 2012, Wiles rejoins the Crawdads after allowing four runs on 4.2 IP over two relief appearances in the AZL.

McElwee joins fellow 2014 Crawdads Cody Kendall, Kevin Pucetas, Lewis Brinson, Nick Vickerson, Abel De Los Santos, and Kevin Torres on the Pelicans roster.

Appalachian State University football’s Sept. 20 contest at Southern Miss will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and be televised live on the newly formed American Sports Network, Conference USA announced on Thursday.

The American Sports Network will air on a number of Sinclair Broadcasting-owned television stations across the country. Sinclair owns and operates 162 television stations in 78 U.S. markets. Specific stations that will carry the Appalachian State-Southern Miss game have yet to be determined.

The Sept. 20 matchup between Appalachian State and Southern Miss is the first game of a home-and-home series between the two schools. Southern Miss makes the return trip to App State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium on Sept. 19, 2015.

The Mountaineers and Golden Eagles are meeting on the gridiron for the first time in 77 years. In the lone previous matchup between the two schools, Southern Miss beat Appalachian, 7-0, in an unnamed bowl game in Biloxi, Miss. on Dec. 3, 1937.

The Hickory Crawdads jumped out to a 1st inning advantage and seemed to be on their way to a win Thursday night, but the initial offense didn't hold as the 'Dads lost to the visiting Lakewood BlueClaws 4-3 in front of 2,673 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

A leadoff solo home run by All-Star Evan Van Hoosier and a RBI single from Kellin Deglan headlined a two-run, four-hit 1st inning for the Crawdads to give them an early 2-0 lead. The fast start promptly ran out of steam however, as the 'Dads were held to one run on three hits the rest of the way. The defeat marked just the sixth time all year that Hickory scored the first run in a game and failed to hold on for the victory.

Following the Crawdads initial 2-0 surge, the BlueClaws responded with a solo home from All-Star Willians Astudillo in the 2nd and a 2-RBI single by Zach Green in the 3rd to take a 3-2 advantage. The 'Dads came back with the game-tying tally in the bottom of the 4th, when Jairo Beras singled to start the frame before eventually scoring on a RBI base knock by Luis Marte to deadlock the score at 3-3.

The tie wouldn't last long though, as Lakewood took advantage of a rare throwing error from Hickory shortstop Michael De Leon in the top of the 5th to score an unearned run and take the 4-3 lead they would go on to win by. The 'Dads threatened for the last time in the home half of the 5th with men at the corners and one out, but the Crawdads came up empty in the frame and went rest of the game without another base runner; a string of 14-consecutive batters retired by the BlueClaws pitching staff.

'Claws reliever Joe DeNato (1-0) earned the win with 3.1 perfect innings out of the bullpen with four strikeouts. Teammate Aaron Baker picked up his first save of the year with 1.1 perfect frames to close out the game. Crawdads starter Ricardo Rodriguez (5-5) took the loss after giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over five innings pitched.

Van Hoosier finished the night 1-4 with his eighth homer of the season, while both Michael De Leon and Joe Jackson went 1-3 with a walk. Deglan ended the game 1-4 with a RBI.

The Crawdads (16-12) will now go on the road for a four-game series in Greensboro against the first place Grasshoppers. First pitch for game one Friday night is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:31

Cox Named as 2014 Doak Walker Award Candidate

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Appalachian State University sophomore Marcus Cox (Dacula, Ga./Dacula) is one of 53 official preseason candidates for the 2014 Doak Walker Award, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award is presented annually to college football’s top running back.

Cox is one of only nine underclassmen among the 53 candidates and one of just four from the Sun Belt Conference (joining Arkansas State junior Michael Gordon, Louisiana-Lafayette senior Alonzo Harris and Texas State junior Robert Lowe). Cox is also the only candidate from the six NCAA Division I FBS programs in the state of North Carolina.

Cox set Appalachian State freshman records with 1,250 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns as a true freshman in 2013. He also tied the school’s freshman record with 15 rushing touchdowns and piled up 1,809 all-purpose yards en route to finishing second in voting for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the NCAA Division I FCS Freshman of the Year. He also earned a spot on 247Sports’ freshman all-America team and was the only FCS representative and one of just three players from non-BCS conferences on that prestigious list.

Appalachian State opens preseason practices on Aug. 1 in preparation for its FBS debut on Aug. 30 at Michigan.

The Texas Rangers have announced their monthly minor league award winners for June, with Hickory Crawdads infielder Michael De Leon being honored as the Rangers Minor League Defender of the Month.

De Leon, 17, appeared in 21 games at shortstop and 2 games at second base in June for Hickory as the youngest player in the South Atlantic League. He committed just 2 errors during the month and owns a .968 fielding percentage (7 E/221 TC) in 53 games overall this season. At the plate, De Leon batted .284 (25-88) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 6 RBI, 7 walks, and 16 runs scored for the Crawdads in June. De Leon was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2013 and became the youngest player in 'Dads franchise history (17 years, 120 days) when he was added to the team on May 14th.

Former Crawdads pitcher Alexander Claudio (2013) was also honored by the Rangers as the organization's Minor League Reliever of the Month for June. De Leon becomes this second 'Dad this year to win the Rangers MiLB Defender of the Month Award, joining former teammate and current Myrtle Beach Pelican Lewis Brinson who took home the honor in April.

Lenoir-Rhyne University's Joe Ray, Tanner Botts and Blake Baker were all named to the 2014 Beyond Sports Network (BSN) NCAA Division II Preseason All-American Football Teams. Ray and Botts earned first-team honors while Baker was selected to the second team.

Ray, a junior offensive lineman from Atlanta, Ga., won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy last year, given annually to the top offensive lineman in the South Atlantic Conference.

Ray anchored a unit which helped the Bears lead Division II in rushing last year (370.9 ypg) while the team's total rushing yards (5,563) set an all-time NCAA single-season record.

Botts, a senior linebacker from Lawrenceville, Ga., led Lenoir-Rhyne in total tackles last year with 134 to go along with 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. Botts, a two-time First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference honoree (2012-13), has 296 tackles so far in his career.

Baker, a senior defensive lineman from Bethlehem, N.C., set the school single-season record for sacks (14.5) last year in addition 56 tackles including 22 for a loss, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

All three players earned All-American honors by various publications last year and led Lenoir-Rhyne to a 13-2 record, a third straight league championship and a berth in the NCAA Division II Championship game in 2013.

The Bears also finished the year ranked No. 2 in the nation and set a school single-season record for wins in a season. Lenoir-Rhyne opens the 2014 campaign on Saturday, September 6, at home against Point. Kickoff at Moretz Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m.

2014 Beyond Sports Network
NCAA Division II Preseason
All-America Football Teams

First Team Offense
QB - Kevin Rodgers, Henderson State, Senior
QB - Chris Bonner, CSU Pueblo, Senior
RB - Daiquone Ford, Findlay, Junior
RB - Tyler Tonderum, Southwest Minnesota, Senior
ATH - Jason Vander Laan, Ferris State, Junior
WR - Trevor Harman, Shippensburg, Senior
WR - Marquez Clark, Central Oklahoma, Senior
WR - Darius Davis, Henderson State, Senior
WR - Vernon Johnson, Texas A&M Commerce, Senior
TE - Andrew Dillon, Saginaw Valley, Senior
TE - Lucas Hefty, Upper Iowa, Senior
OT - Cory Tucker, Slippery Rock, Sophomore
OG - Andrew Muer, Minnesota Duluth, Senior
OC - Josh Meeker, Minnesota State, Senior
OG - Aaron Sprinkle, Ouachita Baptist, Senior
OT - Joe Ray, Lenoir-Rhyne, Junior

First Team Defense
DE - Matt Longacre, Northwest Missouri State, Senior
DT - Taylor Carney, North Alabama, Senior
DT - Charlie Tuaau, Texas A&M Commerce, Senior
DE - Darius Allen, CSU Pueblo, Senior
LB - LeRon Furr, Fort Valley State, Senior
LB - Tanner Botts, Lenoir-Rhyne, Senior
LB - Tyler Henderson, Minnesota State, Junior
LB - Warren Shields, Ohio Dominican, Junior
CB - Isaiah Davis, Central Washington, Junior
CB - Patrick Schmidt, Minnesota State, Junior
S - John Strickland, Indianapolis, Senior
S - Tyler Thornton, Azusa Pacific, Senior

First Team Special Teams
K - Jamie McGee, Arkansas Monticello, Sophomore
K - Brent Wahle, Ohio Dominican, Junior
P - Kyle Jaski, Lincoln (Pa.), Senior
P - Scott Groner, Missouri Western, Senior
KR - C.J. Davis, Shepherd, Sophomore
PR - Earl Anderson, Simon Fraser, Junior

Second Team Offense
QB - Kyle Caldwell, West Alabama, Senior
QB - Kevin Arduino, American International, Senior
RB - Javae Swindle, West Alabama, Junior
RB - Jeff Seybold, Pittsburg State, Junior
WR - Justin Houston, Tusculum, Junior
WR - Dimitri Holmes, Mars Hill, Senior
WR - Jere Brown, Merrimack, Junior
WR - Paul Browning, CSU Pueblo, Senior
FB - Romo Westbrook, Harding, Senior
TE - Khari Lee, Bowie State, Senior
TE - Steve Jones, East Stroudsburg, Senior
OT - Cole Manhart, Nebraska Kearney, Senior
OG - Jarrett Stastny, Emporia State, Sophomore
OC - Shadow Stokes, Midwestern State, Senior
OG - Michael Thompson, Harding, Senior
OT - Matthew Reese, Tuskegee, Senior

Second Team Defense
DE - Julian Howsare, Clarion, Senior
DT - Brandon Yost, Northwest Missouri State, Junior
DT - Bryan Thomson, East Stroudsburg, Senior
DE - Blake Baker, Lenoir-Rhyne, Senior
LB - Isaiah Fleming, Cheyney, Senior
LB - Grant Singer, Mary, Senior
LB - Brian Harrington, Stonehill, Senior
LB - Justin Shirk, Bloomsburg, Senior
CB - Stephan Dickens, CSU Pueblo, Senior
CB - Andre Smith, Indianapolis, Senior
S - Michael Johnson, Fayetteville State, Senior
S - Davon Marion, Concord, Senior

Second Team Special Teams
K - Jamie Cacciatore, Azusa Pacific, Junior
K - Avery Llewellyn, Colorado Mines, Junior
P - Andy Cerett, California (Pa.), Junior
P - Sam Fowler, Angelo State, Junior
KR - Derick Seward, West Georgia, Senior
PR - Elby Pope, Mary, Junior

Third Team Offense
QB - Brent Wilson, Emporia State, Junior
QB - Matt Soltes, East Stroudsburg, Junior
RB - Anthony Taylor, Ashland, Senior
RB - Chris Smith, Upper Iowa, Senior
RB - Terrell Watson, Azusa Pacific, Senior
WR - Ricky Hunt, Delta State, Senior
WR - Chad Toocheck, West Alabama, Senior
WR - Greg Livingston, McMurray, Senior
WR - Nate Robitaille, Stonehill, Senior
WR - Adam Jiskra, MSU Morehead, Junior
TE - Jamie Potts, Grand Valley State, Junior
TE - Wesley Powell, Tusculum, Senior
FB - Jonathan Hammer, Shepherd, Junior
OT - Austin Payne, CSU Pueblo, Senior
OG - Dan Naja, American International, Senior
OC - Derek Schatz, West Chester, Senior
OG - Garrison Ushery, West Georgia, Senior
OT - Mitchell Weideman, St. Cloud State, Senior
OT - Isaiah Shelton, Shepherd, Senior

Third Team Defense
DE - Jovantay Williams, Johnson C. Smith, Senior
DT - Barry Ballinger, Minnesota State, Senior
DT - Jake Lee, Augustana, Junior
DE - Kraig Akins, Western Oregon, Senior
DE/LB - Diego Lubin, Delta State, Senior
LB - Jaquawne Simpkins, American International, Senior
LB - Eric Reimer, Northwest Missouri State, Senior
LB - Tyler Zimmer, Seton Hill, Senior
LB - D’Gary Wallace, Urbana, Junior
CB - Al-Hajj Shabazz, West Chester, Senior
CB - Jamaris Brown, Walsh, Senior
CB - Mike Jordan, Missouri Western, Junior
S - Marqui Christian, Midwestern State, Junior
S - Harold Jones Quartey, Findlay, Senior
S - Austin Miele, Slippery Rock, Senior

Third Team Special Teams
K - Brett Ullman, IUP, Senior
K - Justin Linn, Washburn, Sophomore
P - James Dugan, West Georgia, Junior
P - Mike Wenk, Southwest Minnesota, Senior
KR - Justin Caliste, Gannon, Senior
KR - Terrell Roberson, California (Pa.), Senior

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 22:54

Mazara Hits Two Home Runs in Crawdads Win

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The Hickory Crawdads bounced back less than 24 hours after a shutout loss to the Lakewood BlueClaws with one of their more well-rounded games of the season Wednesday afternoon, as the 'Dads hit, pitched, and defended their way to a 7-2 win over the 'Claws at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Nomar Mazara led the Crawdads offense with a 3-4 game including two home runs, three RBIs, and three runs scored. David Ledbetter paced the 'Dads pitching staff with five shutout innings on just two hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. The victory snaps a 7-game home losing streak for the Crawdads, while improving the club to 4-2 against the BlueClaws this season.

In lieu of a big inning, Hickory scored at least one run in six consecutive frames from the 2nd through the 7th. Mazara got the bats going in the 2nd, when the Crawdads slugger lined the first pitch of the inning from Lakewood starter Jon Prosinski over the right field wall for a solo homer and a 1-0 'Dads lead. The advantage doubled to 2-0 with another single tally in the 3rd, this time on a double by Luis Marte and a RBI single from Michael De Leon.

The Crawdads plated single runs again in both the 4th and 5th to push their lead to 4-0. Nick Urbanus came through with a RBI single to score the run in the 4th, while it was a RBI base knock by Mazara that brought home the tally in inning number five. The 'Dads finally put up a crooked number with two runs scored in the 6th to go ahead 6-0. Jairo Beras led off the frame with a double and came in two batters later on a RBI triple by Urbanus. One batter after that, Marte brought home Urbanus with a RBI single to right.

Hickory plated their final run in the bottom of the 7th, when Mazara went yard for the second time with another solo blast to right for his 15th homer of the year and a 7-0 Crawdads lead. Lakewood scored their only two runs of the game in the top of the 8th, when center fielder Carlos Tocci lined a 2-run home run to left off of Anyelo Leclerc for the final 7-2 score.

All the run support made a winner out of Ledbetter (3-4), while Prosinski (3-3) took the loss for the 'Claws with six runs allowed, five earned, on eight hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 5.1 innings.

Joining Mazara with a good game at the plate was Urbanus, who went 2-4 with a triple, two RBIs, and a run, while Marte ended the afternoon 2-4 with a double, RBI, and run scored.

The Crawdads (16-11) and BlueClaws (9-18) will play the rubber match of their three game series Thursday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.