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Monday, 29 June 2015 07:07

Hickory Crawdads Shut Out Against Lakewood

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It was a rough day at the ballpark for the Hickory Crawdads Sunday evening, as the 'Dads had trouble at the plate, on the mound, and in the field in a 9-0 loss to the Lakewood BlueClaws at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The 'Claws offense jumped on a Crawdads pitching staff that included All-Stars Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado, with the 'Dads allowing 9 runs on 14 hits. The Hickory offense meanwhile was shutout for just the sixth time this season on five hits and a pair of walks. The game took a turn for the worst for both teams in the 3rd, when Mendez and Lakewood center fielder Herlis Rodriguez were both ejected following a benches clearing argument that began with Mendez beaning Rodriguez at the plate.

The BlueClaws relentless offensive attack began in the 1st, when they scored two runs, one earned, on four hits and the first of 3 Crawdads errors for a 2-0 score. The runs were the first given up by Mendez all season, a streak that began the night at 24.1 innings. The 'Claws got on the board again in the 3rd, as the road team scored two more runs on Mendez before his ejection and one more tally against Hickory reliever Ricardo Rodriguez to push their lead to 5-0.

Rodriguez was touched up again in the 5th for two more runs and a 7-0 'Claws advantage, before Lakewood scored their final two runs against Jurado in the 7th for the 9-0 score.

Offensively the 'Dads got two runners into scoring position on the night, with both Jairo Beras and Michael De Leon doubling with two outs in the 5th and 6th innings respectively. Josh Morgan finished the game 1-3 with a walk to extend his hitting streak to a season-best 10 straight games.

The Crawdads (45-27/1-3) will try to salvage the final game of the series against the BlueClaws (36-36/3-1) Monday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Caldwell County: 11
Taylorsville: 3

Hickory: 9
Cherryville: 8

Maiden: 9
Gastonia: 2

The Hickory Crawdads entered the 8th inning Saturday night in a favorable position with a one-run lead and a shutdown bullpen to finish out the game, but the normally dominant Hickory pen was not able to hold on to the lead as the visiting Lakewood BlueClaws scored four runs over the final two frames to hand the 'Dads a 6-3 loss at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The turning point in the game came in the top of the 8th, when the 'Claws put runners at second and third base with only one out. Clinging to a one-run lead, Crawdads reliever Joe Filomeno struck out Lakewood leadoff hitter Drew Stankiewicz to move one out away from escaping the frame with the lead intact, but the BlueClaws came through with back-to-back doubles by Scott Kingery and Herlis Rodriguez to drive in three runs and give the 'Claws a 5-3 lead they would not let go of.

Prior to the 8th, the 'Dads built a 3-2 advantage thanks to some early runs with clutch 2-out hits against Lakewood starter Chris Oliver. The first big knock came right away in the 1st, when Eduard Pinto singled to left with two outs, Jose Trevino doubled to left, and Jonathan Meyer brought them both in with a 2-RBI single for a 2-0 Hickory lead.

The BlueClaws got on the board against Crawdads starter Brett Martin in the 3rd with a solo home run by 9th place hitter Emmanuel Merrero to cut the score to 2-1, but the 'Dads answered right back in the 4th when Carlos Arroyo drove home Jairo Beras with a 2-out, RBI triple to once again put Hickory up by a pair with a 3-1 advantage.

The 'Claws picked up one last run against Martin in the 5th to end the hurler's night with two runs allowed on four hits and four strikeouts over 5 innings pitched. The 'Dads turned the 3-2 lead over to the pen in the 6th, with reliever Chris Dula delivering two scoreless frames before Lakewood rallied for three runs in the 8th and one in the 9th for the final 6-3 score.

BlueClaws reliever Manny Martinez (2-1) earned the win with two scoreless innings while Filomeno (0-1) took the loss for Hickory with a season-high 3 runs allowed on four hits and 2 Ks in his one frame on the mound. Lakewood closer Matt Hockenberry (7) picked up the save with a perfect 9th.

Jose Cardona was the only 'Dad to finish with a multi-hit game going 2-4 with a double, while Meyer ended the night 1-4 with 2 RBI and Arroyo went 1-4 with a triple and an RBI.

The Crawdads (45-26/1-2) will take on the BlueClaws (35-36/2-1) again Sunday evening at 5:00 pm in game three of the five-game series.

Burke: 8
Asheville: 7

Caldwell County: 9
Kings Mountain: 4

Hickory: 18
Henderson County: 7

Rutherford County: 10
Taylorsville: 0

Shelby: 10, 18
Maiden: 0, 5

Monday, 29 June 2015 06:45

Grand Slam Proves Costly in Crawdads Loss

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One swing of the bat proved to be the difference in an otherwise low-scoring game for the Hickory Crawdads Friday night, as Lakewood BlueClaws left fielder Cord Sandberg lined a grand slam just inside the right field foul poll in the 3rd to send the 'Dads to a 6-3 loss at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads entered the 3rd inning already trailing the 'Claws 1-0, before Hickory starting pitcher Cody Buckel loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and a walk to bring up Sandberg with one out. The Lakewood slugger followed with a line drive down the right field line that just cleared the top of the fence and snuck inside the foul pole for a grand slam. The ensuing 5-0 BlueClaws lead would ultimately hold up, as the 'Dads rallied for one run in the 3rd and two in the 5th before falling by the final score of 6-3.

The Crawdads were able to work their way back into the contest thanks to 4.1 nearly perfect innings of relief by Hickory right-hander Kelvin Vasquez. The 6'4" Dominican Republic native recorded the final out of the top of the 3rd in relief of Buckel and allowed only one base runner on an error as he sat the 'Claws down through the 7th.

The standout bullpen outing allowed the 'Dads offense to pick away at the deficit, beginning in the home half of the 3rd when Ricky Valencia walked to start the inning before ultimately scoring on an RBI sacrifice fly from Michael De Leon to make the score 5-1. The Crawdads made the game even tighter with a pair of runs in the 5th, this time with Jairo Beras coming through with a 2-out, 2-RBI single up the middle to bring the 'Dads within two at 5-3.

That would be as close as Hickory would get however, as the BlueClaws picked up an unearned insurance run in the top of the 9th on a passed ball before working around a leadoff double by Eduard Pinto in the 9th to close out the game.

Lakewood starter Ranfi Casimiro (3-5) earned the win with three runs allowed on four hits, two walks, and four strikeouts over his five innings pitched. Buckel (0-2) took the loss for the 'Dads after giving up five runs on four hits, two walks, and three hit batters over 2.2 IP.

Beras ended the game 1-4 with 2 RBI, while Josh Morgan extended his hitting streak to 8 games with a 2-4 night.

The Crawdads (45-25/1-1) will host the BlueClaws (34-36/1-1) again on Saturday night, with first pitch for game three of the five-game series scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Appalachian State University football landed 12 representatives on Athlon Sports’ preseason all-Sun Belt Conference teams, which were announced on Friday.

A trio of defenders — senior defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga./Greene County), junior linebacker John Law (Atlanta, Ga./Grady) and senior defensive back Doug Middleton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Parkland) — lead the way with first-team honors.

Junior running back Marcus Cox (Dacula, Ga./Dacula) and sophomore offensive lineman Beau Nunn (York, S.C./York Comprehensive) represent Appalachian State’s offense on the second and third teams, respectively.

Rounding out the Mountaineers’ 12 honorees, sophomore quarterback Taylor Lamb (Calhoun, Ga./Calhoun), senior wide receiver Malachi Jones (Roswell, Ga./Central Gwinnett), senior offensive lineman Jesse Chapman (Cookeville, Tenn./Cookeville), junior offensive lineman Parker Collins (North Augusta, S.C./North Augusta), junior linebacker Kennan Gilchrist (Abbeville, S.C./Abbeville), sophomore defensive back Latrell Gibbs (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb) and junior punter Bentlee Critcher (South Daytona, Fla./Warner Christian Academy) were named to the fourth team.

The Mountaineers’ 12 overall honorees are the second-most in Athlon’s preseason Sun Belt prognostications, behind only Arkansas State (15). Appalachian’s three first-team selections are tied for third behind A-State and UL Monroe (four apiece).

Despite the individual plaudits and the fact that Appalachian State returns 20 starters from last season’s third-place squad, Athlon picked the Mountaineers to finish fourth in the Sun Belt race in 2015, behind Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and UL Lafayette. App State hosts all three teams this year at Kidd Brewer Stadium, with Georgia Southern (Oct. 22) and A-State (Nov. 5) coming to The Rock for nationally televised Thursday night games on ESPNU and UL Lafayette visiting for the Mountaineers’ home finale on Nov. 28.

Season tickets, including a slew of full- and half-season packages, are on sale now. Tickets, which are available for as low as $99 for the full season (six home games) and $65 for a half-season package (three home games), can be purchased online at appstatesports.com/tickets, by phone at (828) 262-2079 and in person at the Appalachian State athletics ticket office, located at the Holmes Center.

Hickory: 9
Taylorsville: 1

Four Appalachian State University baseball student-athletes were selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim picked senior infielder Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) in the 21st round (No. 645 overall), the San Francisco Giants selected junior infielder Dillon Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) in the 23rd round (No. 696 overall), the Minnesota Twins tabbed junior outfielder Jaylin Davis (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) in the 24th round (No. 710 overall) and the Texas Rangers drafted senior left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs (Belmont, N.C./South Point) in the 30th round (No. 888 overall) of the 40-round draft.

Appalachian State’s four draftees match the program record set in 2009, 2012 and 2013. In all, 21 Mountaineers have been selected in the last eight MLB Drafts.

A former walk-on, Pierson led Appalachian State in hitting each of the last two seasons (.343 in 2014 and .346 in 2015). He finished his collegiate career with a .341 batting average, 30 doubles, 16 home runs and 86 RBI. His 41 walks this season were the 10th-most in program history and he ranked 33rd nationally in walks per game (.77) and 36th in on-base percentage (.469).

In just three seasons, Dobson already ranks fifth in Appalachian State history with 29 career home runs. His 12 homers this season rank 57th nationally and his .577 slugging percentage is good for 97th in NCAA Division I. He is a two-time all-conference honoree, having earned first-team recognition in the Southern Conference as a sophomore in 2014 and second-team plaudits in the Sun Belt as a junior this season.

Despite being limited to just 18 games as a junior due to a season-ending arm injury sustained while making a diving catch versus Texas State on March 15, Davis became the first Mountaineer to be drafted as an outfielder since Rand Smith in 2009. He was named a freshman all-American in 2012, set a school record with seven triples as a sophomore in 2013 and, in just 126 career games, is already tied for third in program history with 11 career triples.

Springs ranks among Appalachian State’s all-time leaders in career starts (43 - t-3rd), innings pitched (243.1 - 7th) and strikeouts (215 - 4th). He turned in the finest season of his career as a senior in 2015, going 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.

As juniors, Dobson and Davis have until Aug. 15 to decide if they will sign with the clubs that selected them or return to Appalachian State for their senior seasons. Pierson and Springs will begin their professional careers immediately.

Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Ivan Vieitez has been selected today by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 27th Round as the 822nd pick in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.

Vieitez, a senior pitcher, outfielder and four-year starter from Miami, Fla., is the first Lenoir-Rhyne player drafted in 24 years.

Lenoir-Rhyne’s Steve Davis and Michael Tidwell were both drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1991. Craig Corbett, a 2014 LR Sports Hall Of Fame Inductee, was the first-ever player drafted by the school in 1981 by the Montreal Expos.

Vieitez, drafted as a pitcher, went 5-6 on the year with a 6.17 earned run average, one complete game and 64 strikeouts. At the plate, Vieitez batted .288 with five home runs and 38 runs batted in while starting all 48 games.

Vieitez, a two-time All-South Atlantic Conference First-Team honoree (2013-14), had his best season as a junior in 2014.

That year, Vieitez ranked third in the nation in batting average - .451 – to go along with a team-high 39 runs scored, 65 hits, 15 doubles, four home runs, 38 runs batted in, 100 total bases, a .694 slugging percentage and .539 on-base percentage.

On the mound in 2014, Vieitez went 5-5 with a school-best 2.95 earned run average, three complete games and two shutouts. For his efforts, Vieitez earned NCAA Division II Third-Team All-American honors by Daktronics.

For his career, Vieitez hit .344 with 145 runs scored, 44 doubles, a school-record 16 triples, 21 home runs and 147 RBI to go along with 372 total bases and 42 stolen bases. As a pitcher, Vieitez was 15-14 with four complete games, two shutouts and 147 strikeouts.

The Hickory Crawdads spent the first 8 innings of Wednesday afternoon's game failing to make the visiting Charleston RiverDogs pay for an abundance of walks issued, but the 'Dads were finally able to break through in the 9th with three free passes and a game-winning, RBI single from Josh Morgan for a 3-2 victory at L.P. Frans Stadium.

In front of an Education Day crowd of 3,023 fans, the Crawdads drew five walks and produced two separate bases loaded opportunities over the first 8 innings, but were only able to score twice resulting in a 2-2 tie. The 9th frame saw the 'Dads draw three more consecutive walks with one out to bring up Morgan with a chance to win the game. After falling behind in the count 1-2, the Hickory shortstop punched the game winning, RBI single through the right side of the infield for a walk-off 3-2 Crawdads victory.

The 'Dads ended the game with eight total walks drawn off the Charleston pitching staff, with Jose Cardona leading the way going 0-1 with three free passes. Jose Trevino also drew multiple walks while finishing 1-2 with an RBI and 2 BBs, while Carlos Arroyo ended the game 2-3 with a double, a walk, and two runs scored. Morgan was one of the few Hickory hitters not to reach base with four balls, but paced the offense with a 2-4 game including a double and the winning RBI.

Offense was sparse for both teams early on, as Crawdads starter Cody Buckel held the RiverDogs to just one run on two hits and 6 strikeouts over 5 innings pitched, while 'Dogs hurler Matt Wotherspoon kept the 'Dads to one run on three hits, three walks, and 9 Ks over 6 innings. Charleston got on the board first in the top of the 3rd, with a hit-by-pitch, a groundout, a wild pitch, and an RBI groundout putting the team on top 1-0. Hickory responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, as Morgan doubled to left with one out and came in on a two-out RBI single by Trevino to tie the score at 1-1.

The game remained deadlocked until the top of the 6th, when the 'Dogs got to Crawdads reliever Adam Parks for one run on three hits to re-take the lead at 2-1. The 'Dads rallied to tie the score again in the home half of the 7th when Arroyo came home on a bases loaded wild pitch by Charleston reliever Andre Del Bosque for a 2-2 score.

Two innings later, Del Bosque was still on the mound for the RiverDogs when he retired the leadoff batter in the 9th but followed it up with consecutive walks to Arroyo and Cardona. The 'Dogs then brought in Dillon McNamara, but the new reliever promptly walked Kiner-Falefa before giving up the decisive hit to Morgan to end the game.

Hickory reliever David Perez (1-1) earned the win with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen including three strikeouts. Del Bosque (3-1) took the loss for Charleston with two runs allowed over his 2.1 innings of work.

The Crawdads (38-20) will go for the series sweep over the RiverDogs (28-31) in their third and final game Thursday night at 7:00 pm.