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Sunday, 12 July 2015 21:58

Crawdads Bats Come Alive in 7-3 Win

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The Hickory Crawdads trailed the Lakewood BlueClaws 2-0 after the 1st inning Friday night, but the 'Dads bats rallied for 7 unanswered runs while the Hickory pitching staff retired 15 in-a-row resulting in a 7-3 win at FirstEnergy Park.

A Crawdads offense that had been held to 5 combined runs while losing three straight games broke through for seven runs on 11 hits, with four separate players ending the night with a multi-hit game. The outburst of runs backed a pitching staff that recovered from a difficult 1st inning with 7 straight shutout frames.

The BlueClaws ambushed Hickory All-Star starting pitcher Yohander Mendez in the 1st inning, as the 'Claws scored two runs on four hits to take a 2-0 lead. The 'Dads responded in the top of the 2nd, when Jairo Beras lined his first triple of the season to left and came home one batter later on an RBI groundout by Juremi Profar to make the score 2-1.

The Crawdads continued their attack in the 4th, with a one-out double by Jonathan Meyer, a walk by Luke Tendler, a single from Beras, and a 2-RBI base knock by Profar giving the club a 3-2 lead it would never let go of.

The offensive onslaught continued in the 5th with an infield single from Jose Caronda, a base knock by Carlos Arroyo, and an RBI single to center courtesy of Josh Morgan stretching the Hickory advantage to 4-2. The 'Dads finished off their production at the plate with a 3-run 7th, as Morgan delivered a 2-RBI single before Meyer drove home the team's final run on an RBI sacrifice fly to push the club ahead 7-1.

The outpouring of offense provided ample support for the Hickory pitching staff, as Mendez settled in following the 1st and retired the next 13 consecutive batters to end his night after four innings pitched. Fellow All-Star Ariel Jurado continued the game where his teammate left off, with the Panama native tossing three scoreless innings of relief on one hit and three strikeouts.

Lakewood would get back on the board with a rally in the 9th inning that scored a run and loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. Hickory reliever Scott Williams stifled the rally from there however by retiring the two batters he faced to end the game with a 7-3 'Dads victory.

Jurado (10-0) earned the win for the Crawdads, while 'Claws starter Elniery Garcia (6-7) took the loss after giving up four runs on 8 hits, one walk, and one strikeout over six innings pitched. Williams (2) picked up the save after closing out the game in the 9th.

Both Morgan (2-5, 3 RBI, SB) and Profar (1-3, 3 RBI, HBP) paced the Hickory offense with 3 RBI apiece, while Cardona finished the game 2-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base.

The Crawdads (52-32/8-8) will look to take back-to-back games against the BlueClaws (41-43/8-8) in game four of the 5-game series Saturday night at 7:05 pm.

The Hickory Crawdads fell behind early and had their potential comeback cut short Thursday night, as the 'Dads game in Lakewood against the BlueClaws was called after just 4 ½ innings due to rain resulting in a 5-2 Hickory defeat at FirstEnergy Park.

The Crawdads fell behind 5-0 after a 5-run, 2nd inning by the BlueClaws, but clawed back with single runs in the top of the 3rd and 5th. It was immediately after the top of the 5th inning ended that the tarp was pulled however, resulting in a 39-minute delay before the game was called with a Hickory the 5-2 loss.

The contest began with a scoreless 1st inning before the bottom of the Lakewood lineup started the rally against Crawdads pitcher Brett Martin in the 2nd. The 6th through 9th place hitters all reached to start the frame, with a double, back-to-back singles, and a walk combining to score a run and load the bases with no outs. Following a double play that allowed a run to score at the expense of recording a pair of outs, the 'Claws kept the bats going with an RBI single by Drew Stankiewicz and a 2-run home run from Scott Kingery to put the 'Dads behind 5-0.

The Hickory offense got one of the runs back in the top of the 3rd when Brallan Perez laid down a bunt single, stole second base, moved to third on an error, and finally scored on an RBI sacrifice fly from Jose Cardona to make the score 5-1. The Crawdads picked up another tally in the top of the 5th, this time with a leadoff walk by Perez followed by a one-out, bunt single from Carlos Arroyo and a wild pitch by BlueClaws starter Austin Davis to plate Perez and cut the 'Dads deficit to 5-2.

The Crawdads comeback was halted there however as the rain began immediately following the top of the 5th and never subsided, eventually leading to a shortened 5-2 loss.

Davis (1-2) earned his first win of the year after allowing two runs on six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over five innings pitched. Martin (3-4) took the loss for the 'Dads with five runs allowed on seven hits, two walks, and one K during his 1.2 innings on the mound.

Perez finished the game 1-1 with a walk, two runs scored, and a stolen base to lead the Hickory offense. Arroyo ended the night 2-3, while Luke Tendler went 1-2 with a triple.

The Crawdads (51-32/7-8) will look to jump back in the win column in game three of their five game series against the BlueClaws (41-42/8-7) Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm.

The Texas Rangers have announced the club's 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, 18, appeared in 13 games at shortstop and one at second base in the month of June for Hickory, with the switch-hitting infielder committing just one error during the month. De Leon rates statistically as the top defensive shortstop in the South Atlantic League this season with a .974 fielding percentage (7 E/265 TC) in 58 games at the position. He has also appeared in 6 games at second base. The native of the Dominican Republic is currently the youngest player in the SAL and all of Low-A. The award is the second of De Leon's career, as he was also named Defender of the Month in June 2014.

Former Crawdads Lewis Brinson (2013/'14) and Ryne Slack (2013/'14) were named monthly award winners as well, as Brinson was honored as the Rangers Player of the Month while Slack was selected as the organization's Reliever of the Month.

The award marks the third time this season that a Crawdads has been honored by the Rangers with a monthly award, with De Leon joining pitcher Yohander Mendez and outfielder Luke Tendler who were named the organization's Reliever of the Month in May and Player of the Month in April respectively.

Lenoir-Rhyne University has announced the hiring of Dean Mathias as its new Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach.

Mathias takes over for Scott Handback, who served as Acting Head Coach during the 2015 season after the death of Lenoir-Rhyne Head Coach Bobby McKee in January.

“I appreciate very much the opportunity that (Lenoir-Rhyne Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics) Neill McGeachy has afforded me and I am excited to prove the wisdom of his decision,” said Mathias.

Mathias, who has served as owner of Play It Again Sports since 1993, has been a Tennis Professional for over 25 years at several clubs in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida including his longest stint (1983-93) at Sherwood Swim & Racquet Club in Greensboro, N.C.

“The first goal is to make the conference tournament with both teams but ultimately win both league tournaments in order to participate in the NCAA Division II National Tournament,” added Mathias.

Mathias also individually coached professional tennis player Jane Preyer and Stephen Enochs and Andy Avram, two nationally-ranked players at Georgia and Wake Forest, respectively.

Mathias was Head Men’s Tennis Coach at Guilford College (1988-91) and played four years at Wake Forest.

As a collegiate player, Mathias won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at fifth singles and second doubles and was named Team MVP in 1972. In addition, Wake Forest finished second in the ACC and Mathias was crowned Big Four Champion that same season.

Mathias, a 1974 graduate of Wake Forest with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was also Head Tennis Coach at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, N.C., for eight years (2000-07) and Page High School in Greensboro, N.C., for two years (1987-88).

Mathias and his wife, Anne, are the proud parents of one daughter: Helen.

Caldwell County: 5
Shelby: 1
Caldwell County leads the best of five series 2-1. Game four is at Shelby Friday.

Union County: 10
Hickory: 8
Hickory leads the best of five series 2-1. Game four is at Union County Friday.

Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:11

Hickory Crawdads Falter at Lakewood

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The Hickory Crawdads outhit the host Lakewood BlueClaws Wednesday night 7-6 but it was the other base runners for the 'Claws that proved to be the difference, as the 'Dads pitching staff issued seven walks en route to a 6-3 loss at FirstEnergy Park.

Starting pitcher Cody Buckel and reliever Chris Dula both experienced control issues, with Buckel handing out four walks over his 5 innings pitched while Dula issued three free passes while pitching in the 6th. Three of the walks directly resulted in runs, while five of the seven occurred in a run-scoring frame for the BlueClaws.

The Hickory offense meanwhile produced seven hits including six over the first five innings, but the Crawdads also stranded seven on the base paths over the first five frames.

Lakewood jumped on the board first in the 2nd inning, when the newly named South Atlantic League Player of the Month Herlis Rodriguez doubled to right, took third on an error by 'Dads right fielder Jairo Beras, and scored an unearned run on an RBI sacrifice fly from Cord Sandberg for a 1-0 score. Hickory countered with a tally in the top of the 3rd, as Carlos Arroyo singled to right to lead off the inning before coming home on a 2-out, RBI base knock to left from Jonathan Meyer to tie the game at 1-1.

The 'Claws re-took the lead the next inning, this time with Damek Tomscha drawing a leadoff walk from Buckel before scoring on a 2-out, RBI single by Deivi Grullon for a 1-0 Lakewood lead. The BlueClaws pulled away in the 6th, with the club plating four runs on three walks, a hit batsman, and a double off of Dula to push the score to 6-1.

The Crawdads cut down their deficit in the 8th when All-Star Luke Tendler lined his 7th home run of the year for a 2-run blast to make the score 6-3, but that would be as close as the team would get as 'Claws closer Joey DeNato tossed a scoreless 9th to end the game.

Lakewood starter Ranfi Casimiro (4-5) earned the win with one run allowed on six hits, three walks, and one strikeout over his six innings pitched. Buckel (0-3) took the loss for the 'Dads after allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits, four walks, and 6 Ks during his 5 innings. DeNato (4) picked up the save for closing out the game.

Tendler finished the night 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI, while Meyer went 1-3 with an RBI. Josh Morgan was the only Hickory batter to reach base safely multiple times by going 1-2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and a run scored.

The Crawdads (51-31/7-7) and BlueClaws (40-42/7-7) will match up again Thursday night for game two of the 5-game series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm.

Caldwell County: 3
Shelby: 2, 10 innings
Series tied 1-1. Game three is Thursday in Granite Falls.

Hickory: 6
Union County: 2
Hickory leads the series 2-0. Game three is Thursday in Hickory.

Wednesday, 08 July 2015 22:25

Stu Holt Named App State Running Backs Coach

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Stu Holt, a western North Carolina native and 19-year coaching veteran, has been named an assistant football coach at Appalachian State University, head coach Scott Satterfield announced on Wednesday. Holt will coach the Mountaineers’ running backs.

“Coach Holt brings a great deal of experience coaching and recruiting at the FBS level to our staff,” Satterfield said. “He’ll not only be a great asset for our running backs but will also be heavily involved with our special teams — both areas where he has been very successful as a college coach. He’s a North Carolina native that brings extensive knowledge of this state and the entire Southeast to the table as a recruiter. We’re excited to welcome Coach Holt and his family back home.”

Holt, 42, comes to Appalachian State after two seasons at the University of South Florida, where he most recently served as the Bulls’ tight ends coach and special-teams coordinator. He arrived at USF as director of player personnel in 2013 before taking over as special-teams coordinator prior to the ‘13 season. He added oversight of the Bulls’ tight ends to his duties in 2014.

In 2013, Holt was nominated for the Broyles Award (National Assistant Coach of the Year) after USF’s special teams improved in nearly every statistical category despite having to replace its starting place kicker and punter from the previous season. Under Holt’s tutelage, USF’s special teams were ranked No. 3 nationally by ESPN Stats Info. The Bulls led the American Athletic Conference and ranked No. 9 nationally in punt returns (14.44-yard average) and first-year place kicker Marvin Kloss was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award (national kicker of the year).

USF’s special teams continued to excel under Holt in 2014, when punter Mattias Ciabatti set a school record with a 44.4-yard punting average. The first-team all-conference selection led the AAC with 22 punts downed inside the 20 and 18 boots of 50 yards or more.

Before his stint at USF, Holt spent eight of the previous nine seasons at Western Kentucky, first as running backs coach (2004-09) and later as tackles/tight ends coach (2011-12). He also coordinated the Hilltoppers’ special teams in 2005 and ‘09 before capping a seven-year stint coaching running backs with one season at Tennessee State (2010).

In seven seasons as a running backs coach, Holt has produced impressive ground attacks and individual rushers. His units ranked among the NCAA Division I FCS top 25 in rushing twice — 14th at WKU in 2004 (226.2 ypg) and 24th at Tennessee State in 2010 (190.0 ypg). Additionally, he coached two 1,000-yard rushers at WKU (Lerron Moore and Tyrell Hayden). Moore finished his career as the Hilltoppers’ all-time leading rusher with 4,396 yards and Hayden’s 1,134 yards in 2007 was the 10th-highest single-season rushing total in program history.

In addition to his successful time at USF, WKU and Tennessee State, Holt’s collegiate coaching experience also includes stints at Bethune-Cookman (inside linebackers/special teams - 2001), Cumberland (defensive line/special teams - 2000), Western Carolina (graduate assistant - 1998-99) and Norwich (1996). He also has three years of experience at the high-school level, including two years as head coach at New Smyrna Beach H.S. in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (2002-03).

Over the course of his career, Holt has coached seven student-athletes that have gone on to play in the National Football League — Brian Claybourn, Jack Doyle, Mitchell Henry and Bobby Rainey at WKU, Kloss and Mike McFarland at USF and Wake Forest all-American Steve Justice at New Smyrna Beach H.S.

Holt played at North Carolina from 1992-95, going to four bowl games as a long snapper for the Tar Heels. He graduated from UNC in 1995 with a B.A. in English and earned a B.S. in education from Western Carolina in 2000.

He grew up just 54 miles from Appalachian State in Hamptonville, N.C. He attended high school at Starmount H.S. and played for his father, B.W. Holt, the fourth-winningest coach in North Carolina high school football history.

Holt and his wife, Kim, have three daughters — Payton, Maggie and Ann Wallace.

“My family and I are extremely excited to join Coach Satterfield at Appalachian State,” Holt said. “We feel blessed to have been asked to contribute to such a historic football program. The 2015 season can’t get here fast enough.”

Coaching Experience
1996: Norwich (linebackers/special teams)
1997: Mainland (Fla.) H.S. (running backs)
1998-99: Western Carolina (graduate assistant)
2000: Cumberland (defensive line/special teams)
2001: Bethune-Cookman (inside linebackers/special teams)
2002-03: New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) H.S. (head coach)
2004-09: Western Kentucky (running backs*)
2010: Tennessee State (running backs)
2011-12: Western Kentucky (tackles/tight ends*)
2013: South Florida (director of player personnel)
2013: South Florida (special teams)
2014: South Florida (tight ends/special teams)
* also coordinated WKU’s special teams in 2005 and 2009 and return game in 2011

Playing Experience
1992-95: North Carolina (LS)

Alma Mater: North Carolina, 1995
Hometown: Hamptonville, N.C.
Birthdate: Dec. 13, 1972 (42 years old)
Wife: Kim
Daughters: Payton, Maggie and Ann Wallace
Twitter: @CoachStuHolt

Appalachian State — Named Stu Holt assistant football coach (running backs)

Appalachian State University senior center Jesse Chapman (Cookeville, Tenn./Cookeville) is one of 63 student-athletes on the official fall watch list for the 16th-annual Rimington Trophy, the Boomer Esiason Foundation announced on Wednesday.

The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I FBS. The award is overseen by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which is committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and has raised over $115 million for CF Research. Since its inception in 2000, the Rimington Trophy has raised over $2.6 million for the cystic fibrosis community.

Dave Rimington, the award’s namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at the University of Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the John Outland Trophy’s only double winner as the nation’s finest college interior lineman.

A former walk-on, Chapman started 11 games at center for Appalachian State in 2014 and helped the Mountaineers rush for 241.8 yards per game (18th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams), including 291.2 ypg during its six-game winning streak to close the regular season.

He recorded 12 knockdowns, surrendered just one sack and was not charged with a “loaf” in 477 snaps last season. He recorded job grades of 85 percent or better three times, highlighted by a season-best 90-percent job grade, three-knockdown performance at UL Lafayette on Nov. 22. His showing in the 35-16 rout over UL Lafayette was especially impressive due to the presence of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ two all-Sun Belt Conference defensive tackles, Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton.

Chapman is one of three Sun Belt Conference representatives on the Rimington Trophy watch list, joining South Alabama junior Joseph Scelfo and Troy senior Dalton Bennett. Chapman is also one of only four representatives from the state of North Carolina, joining Duke senior Matt Skura, NC State senior Quinton Schooley and North Carolina junior Lucas Crowley.

Finalists for the 2015 Rimington Trophy will be announced on Dec. 7 and the winner will be announced on Dec. 10 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Rimington Trophy Presentation on Jan. 16, 2016 in Lincoln, Neb.

Appalachian State 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.

Three members of the Lenoir-Rhyne University Football Team picked up 2015 Preseason All-American honors by USA College Football.

Senior offensive lineman Joe Ray (Atlanta, Ga.) was a first-team selection while junior wide receiver Victor Brannan (Powder Springs, Ga.) and junior punter Michael Destephens (Powder Springs, Ga.) were named to the second team.

Ray, a two-time All-American (2013-14), anchors an offensive line which paved the way for the Bears to rush for an NCAA Division II single-season rushing record 416.2 yards per game last fall.

Ray is also a two-time First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference selection (2013-14) and Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, given annually to the top offensive lineman in the league.
In 2013 as a sophomore, Ray was a starter on a unit which led the Bears to the NCAA Division II Championship game and helped Lenoir-Rhyne rush for an all-time NCAA single-season record 5,563 yards.

Brannan led the Bears in receptions (21), receiving yards (421) and touchdowns (three) while Destephens averaged 39.8 yards per punt in 2014. Both players were All-SAC Second-Team selections last year as well.

In addition, junior defensive lineman Chris Green (Albany, Ga.) earned honorable mention All-American accolades for the Bears.

Green totaled 44 tackles in addition to eight takedowns for a loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks last year on his way to All-South Atlantic Conference Second-Team accolades.

Lenoir-Rhyne, 11-1 last year with a fourth straight South Atlantic Conference Championship, opens the 2015 campaign on Thursday, September 3, against West Chester on the road at 6:00 p.m.

The game, in West Chester, Pa., will be broadcasted on ESPN3. The Bears and the Golden Rams (11-2) finished No. 8 and No. 15 in the final Division II rankings, respectively, last year.

The two teams played in the national semifinals in 2013 with the Bears coming out on top with a 42-14 triumph at Moretz Stadium.

Founded in 1988 by members of the Metropolitan New York Football Writers, USA College Football Network, Inc. (D/B/A USA College Football) is the nation's original media portal for college division All-American teams and creator of post-season senior All-Star games as well as national awards and honors.