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The Hickory Crawdads continued their recent slide while dropping their fourth straight game Monday night, as the 'Dads opened their series against the Lexington Legends with a 9-2 loss at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads began the 2nd half of the South Atlantic League season with a league-best 13-2 record, but the current home stand has not been kind to the 'Dads as they were swept in three games by the Southern Division leading Savannah Sand Gnats prior to losing the first game of their series vs. the Legends. Despite the skid, Hickory still remains in a 3-way tie for first place in the Northern Division with Greensboro and Kannapolis.

Lexington wasted no time in jumping on Crawdads starting pitcher Cole Wiper, scoring two runs on three hits in the top of the 1st for a 2-0 score. The Legends lead doubled to 4-0 with two more tallies in the 3rd, this time with the visitors taking advantage of a fielding error by 'Dads second baseman Janluis Castro and a throwing error by first baseman Ronald Guzman to plate a pair of unearned runs.

Hickory got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd, with Joe Jackson driving in Luis Marte with a two-out RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-1, but the Legends answered back with another run in the 4th and two more runs in the 5th to take a 7-1 lead and chase Wiper from the game.

Lexington plated their final two tallies for a 9-1 lead in the 8th thanks to a hit and a pair of walks off of new Crawdads reliever Scott Williams who was making his professional debut. The Crawdads finished the scoring in the bottom of the 9th, when Travis Demeritte lined his league-leading 18th home run of the season over the right-center field fence for a solo blast and the final 9-2 score.

Wiper (5-7) took the loss for the 'Dads with a season-high seven runs allowed on seven hits over 4.1 innings pitched. Lexington starter Matt Tenuta (4-7) earned the win after allowing one run on three hits during his 5.2 innings. Reliever Pedro Fernandez picked up his first save of the year for the Legends after holding Hickory to one run on one hit over 3.1 frames from the pen.

The Crawdads (13-6) and Legends (7-12) will match up again on Tuesday for game two of the three game series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Asheville: 7
Hickory: 5
Asheville leads the best of five quarterfinal series 1-0. Game two is Tuesday at Henkel Alley Field in Conover.

Shelby: 10
Caldwell County: 6
Shelby leads the best of five quarterfinal series 1-0. Game two is Tuesday at MS Deal Stadium in Granite Falls.

The Texas Rangers announced today that Hickory Crawdads RHP Kevin Pucetas has been promoted to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, becoming the fifth 'Dad this season and the second in four days to move up in the Rangers organization.

Pucetas, 29, leaves the Crawdads after going 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA and a .250 average against over 40.2 innings pitched primarily out of the bullpen. The knuckleballer did make one start for the 'Dads, taking the loss against Lakewood on June 12th despite throwing an 8-inning complete game with only three runs allowed on 10 hits.

The 6'4" South Carolina native was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 17th round of the 2006 Draft, prior to being named the South Atlantic League Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2007, the California League (High-A) Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2008, and a Pacific Coast League (AAA) Mid-Season All-Star in 2009. Following a trade to the Kansas City Royals in 2010, Pucetas was named an Eastern League (AA) Mid-Season All-Star in 2012. Pucetas was signed by the Rangers as a Minor League free agent in 2013 while converting to being a knuckleball pitcher.

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

Monte Sherrill of Alexander Central was named Max Preps National Softball Coach of the Year led his squad to a 35-0 record and another state 4A title. Alexander Central finished behind Amador Valley as the No. 2 team in the Xcellent 25.

"This season was so rewarding because we learned to win in a different style," said Sherrill, 49. "Before, we had Chelsea Wilkinson (Georgia All-American in 2014) and she struck out two of every three batters. She graduated and we had to invent a new style of play – more emphasis on defense, hitting, pick-off plays and baserunning.

"Our baserunning was something to behold," said Sherrill, who has guided Central to four state titles in the last six seasons. "Our baserunning put us on another level."

Central, which set a state record for runs scored (426), will enter the 2015 season riding a 67-game winning streak.

On March 27, Sherrill recorded his 700th win (against just 59 losses). His next coaching victory will be his 722nd.

Sherrill noted that "this team was all about AC (Alexander Central). I am so proud of our two pitchers (Kiana Millsaps and Bailey Rhoney) who shared time without any ego. They worked together and supported one another. It was special to be a part of."

In addition, Sherrill got to share the 2014 season with daughters Bailey Sherrill and Vada Sherrill. Bailey, a senior, earned the MVP award at the state tournament, and Vada, a junior, was the North Carolina Gatorade State Player of the Year.

The All-American Team listed below was selected based on performance on the field and the players' overall contribution to their teams' successes.

On the first team was infielder Vada Sherrill, Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), Junior. The state's first "60-60" player with 60 hits and 60 runs scored, Sherrill led Central to another state title, a 35-0 record and a No. 2 national finish in MaxPreps' final Xcellent 25. She also stole 51 bases and was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year.

Making second team was infielder Taylor Wike, Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), Senior. The UNC recruit led her nationally ranked team to a state title and set a state record with 64 RBIs. She hit .639.

Named to National Fastpitch Coaches Association's All-American teams were pitcher Kiana Millsaps as a first team member, Baily Rhoney as a second team member and Vada Sherrill as a third team honor

Appalachian State University men’s soccer head coach Matt Nelson announced the team’s schedule for the upcoming 2014 season on Monday.

“This schedule for the upcoming fall season is a challenging one,” said Nelson. “It’s a schedule that will prepare us for the conference season as we move into the Sun Belt and ready us for a run at a conference championship.”

The Mountaineers will play three exhibition games in preparation for the regular season. App State will challenge UNC Asheville on the road on Friday, August 15 at 1 p.m. The Apps will return home for a match against Campbell on Sunday, August 17 with a 7 p.m. kickoff before closing out the preseason at High Point on Saturday, August 23 at 7 p.m.

To kick off the regular season, the Mountaineers will begin with two games at the JMU Invitational at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The Apps will face Albany to open the season on Friday, August 29 with a time to be determined and then take on Vermont on Sunday, August 31 also with a time to be determined.

The Apps will continue the road trip on Friday, September 5 at Navy with a 7 p.m. kick off. The team will then play on Sunday, September 7 when the Apps visit the University of Maryland Baltimore County for a 7 p.m. start.

App State will then host Presbyterian on Friday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. for the home opener at Appalachian Soccer Stadium. On Monday, September 15 the Mountaineers will travel to Marshall for a 5 p.m. match.

The following week on Wednesday, September 24 the Black and Gold will return home to face Radford at 7 p.m. before hitting the road again for three-straight matches. The Mountaineers travel to USC Upstate on Saturday, September 27, Duke on Tuesday, September 30 and Hartwick in Oneonta, N.Y. on Friday, October 3. All three games are slated for 7 p.m. kick offs.

Appalachian will then finish the season with four home dates in a six game stretch starting on Wednesday, October 8 when they host Jacksonville University at 7 p.m. The Apps will hit the road to Howard in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 11.

Two familiar opponents will then visit the High Country when Georgia State comes on Saturday, October 18 with a 7 p.m. start time and long-time Southern Conference foe Georgia Southern makes the trek to Boone on Saturday, October 25 for a 7 p.m. kick off.

The Mountaineers will then travel to Longwood for a mid-week game on Wednesday, October 29 at 6 p.m. before closing the regular season at home with a 7 p.m. match against the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday, November 8.

The Sun Belt Conference men’s soccer tournament is slated for Thursday, November 13 through Sunday, November 16 in Statesboro, Georgia.

Caldwell County: 20
Mint Hill: 8
Post 29 wins the series 3-2. Caldwell County Post 29 moves on to the quarterfinals at Shelby, beginning Monday.

Sunday, 06 July 2014 22:32

Crawdads Swept by Savannah

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A battle between the first place teams in both the Northern and Southern Divisions of the South Atlantic League ended up as a one-sided affair, as the Hickory Crawdads fell to the visiting Savannah Sand Gnats 8-2 Sunday night to give the 'Gnats the 3-game series sweep.

Coming into the weekend the 'Dads had either won or split 14 consecutive series while posting a 40-11 record dating back to May 10th. The powerhouse Sand Gnats emerged victorious in all three games of the series however, improving Savannah's minor league best record this season to 58-26.

For the third straight night it was the 'Gnats who jumped out to an early lead, with Savannah scoring once in the 3rd and three more times in the 5th off of Hickory starting pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez for a 4-0 score. The 'Dads responded with a run in the 6th on a RBI single by Joe Jackson to cut the deficit to 4-1.

The Sand Gnats pushed the lead back out to five when they plated a single tally in the top of the 7th, but the Crawdads answered right back with a RBI single by Evan Van Hooiser to make the score 5-2. The 'Dads appeared poised to rally for more in the frame, but Michael De Leon grounded into an inning-ending double play to squelch the frame.

Savannah put the final runs on the board in the top of the 9th, scoring three times on three hits and two walks against Hickory reliever Josh McElwee for the final 8-2 score.

Rodriguez (5-3) took the loss for the Crawdads with four runs allowed on eight hits, no walks, and four strikeouts over five innings pitched. Savannah starter Robert Gsellman (7-3) earned the win with two runs given up on seven hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts over 6.1 frames.

Ronald Guzman led the Hickory offense in the defeat, going 2-3 with a walk and a run scored. Jackson finished the night 1-3 with a RBI and a hit-by-pitch, while Van Hoosier went 1-4 with a RBI.

The Crawdads (13-5) remain atop their division despite the loss, while the Sand Gnats (14-4) have now won 10-straight games. The 'Dads will look to jump back in the win column on Monday when they host the Lexington Legends for game one of a three-game series at 7:00 pm.

Mint Hill: 7
Caldwell County: 4
Series tied 2-2. The deciding game five will be played Sunday at Mint Hill.

Saturday, 05 July 2014 23:25

Crawdads Fall to Savannah in 2-1 Contest

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The Hickory Crawdads found themselves in a late inning situation with a chance to take the lead vs. the Savannah Sand Gnats for the second straight night Saturday, but for the second straight night the 'Dads came up just short resulting in a 2-1 loss to the 'Gnats at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the 8th, Hickory got consecutive singles by Janluis Castro and Evan Van Hoosier to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out. Following a failed bunt attempt by Luis Marte that resulted in the first out of the frame and the ejection of 'Dads interim manager Casey Candaele, Ryan Cordell came through with an infield hit to load the bases with only one out for the Crawdads leading RBI man Nomar Mazara. Savannah turned to left-handed reliever Paul Paez to face the 'Dads lefty slugger, with the lefty-lefty win going to the pitcher as Mazara grounded into an inning-ending double play to squelch the rally.

Offense was at a premium for both clubs throughout the game, with Savannah being held to two runs on 10 hits, eight singles, while Hickory produced their lone run on seven hits, six of them singles. DH Matt Oberste paced the Sand Gnats offense for the second straight night with a 2-3 game that included a double, walk, and run scored. Cordell (3-4, 2B, RBI) and Van Hosier (3-4, R) single handedly tried to carry the 'Dads bats, with the tandem collecting six of the Crawdads seven hits.

The 'Gnats took the lead in the 2nd inning, when Oberste produced one of his team's two extra base hits with a double to left off of 'Dads starting pitcher Anyelo Leclerc. Two batters later, Jorge Rivero singled to right to plate Oberste for a 1-0 score. Savannah doubled their lead to 2-0 with their other extra base hit in the 5th, this time with shortstop Yeixon Ruiz lining a solo home run to right for his first long ball of the season.

The Crawdads broke up the shutout in the 6th against Savannah starter Dario Alvarez when Van Hoosier reached on an infield single to start the frame before Cordell drove him in with a RBI single to make the score 2-1. The 'Dads threatened in the 8th before coming up empty in the frame and going down in order in the 9th against Sand Gnats All-Star close Akeel Morris for the final 2-1 score.

Alvarez (6-0) earned the win for the 'Gnats with one run allowed on three hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts over 5.1 innings pitched. Leclerc (1-2) was the hard luck loser for the 'Dads with only two runs allowed on seven hits, one walk, and six punch outs during his five innings on the mound. Morris (8) earned the save for the second straight night after striking out the side in the 9th.

The loss guarantees the Crawdads (13-4) a series loss for the first time since being swept by Hagerstown in the first week of May. The 'Dads will look to hop back in the win column and salvage their series with the Sand Gnats (13-4) in the third and final game Sunday night at 5:00 pm.

Caldwell County: 14
Mint Hill: 10
Caldwell County Post 29 leads the series 2-1. The best of five series continues Saturday with game four at MS Deal Stadium in Granite Falls.

Hickory: 7
Alexander County: 5
Hickory Post 48 wins the series 3-1. Post 48 advances to the quarterfinals to take on Asheville in a best of five series beginning Sunday.