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Thursday, 09 June 2016 06:09

Hickory Crawdads Lose in 14th Inning

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The Hickory Crawdads found themselves in familiar territory Wednesday afternoon, as the 'Dads took a day game deep into extra innings for the third time this season. Unfortunately for the home team the Crawdads also lost the extra-long contest for the third time, as the 'Dads fell to the visiting Greensboro Grasshoppers 6-5 in 14 innings at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads and Grasshoppers played a back-and-forth affair over the first 9 frames, with the 'Dads holding two separate leads before ultimately entering the 10th in a 3-3 tie. Greensboro ended the 5-inning stalemate with 2 runs in the top of the 12th, only to have Hickory respond with 2 tallies of their own in the bottom of the frame to keep the game going with a 5-5 tie. The 'Hoppers re-took the lead again in the top of the 14th with an unearned run against infielder Josh Altmann on the mound, while the 'Dads failed to score in the bottom of the inning against second baseman Giovanny Alfonzo pitching to end the game with a 6-5 Crawdads defeat.

All three pitchers of record ended up being regular position players, as normal Greensboro third baseman Aaron Blanton (1-0) earned the win with 1.1 perfect innings pitched while Alfonzo (1) earned the save with a scoreless 14th. Altmann (0-1) became the second Hickory position player to earn a loss this year despite not allowing an earned run, as the right-hander gave up 1 unearned tally on 4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout over 2 innings pitched.

The Crawdads jumped out to the initial lead, with an unearned tally in the 2nd and an additional run in the 3rd for a 2-0 lead. A Chuck Moorman single and an eventual fielding error by Alfonzo at second led to the first run, while a double from LeDarious Clark and a passed ball from Greensboro starter Gabriel Castellanos put the 'Dads up by 2.

The Grasshoppers responded in the top of the 4th, with two runs scoring on four hits against Hickory All-Star starter Erik Swanson to tie the game at 2-2.

The Crawdads re-took the lead in the 5th, as Clark doubled again to left, moved to third on a wild pitch from reliever Justin Jacome, and came in to score on an RBI groundout by Yeyson Yrizarri to put Hickory ahead 3-2. The 'Hoppers quickly tied the game back up in the 6th, when Roy Morales was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI base knock from Korey Dunbar for a 3-3 game.

The score remained the same until the 12th, when Greensboro scored 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk against 'Dads reliever Blake Bass to take a 5-3 lead. Hickory refused to give up however, as Jose Almonte and Frandy De La Rosa both singled to start the bottom of the 12th. Following a sacrifice bunt by Clark, Yrizarri plated the first run on an RBI single to left before De La Rosa scored the tying tally after a balk by reliever Jose Quijada.

The game continued until the 14th, when the 'Hoppers used 2 singles, a walk, and errors by both Almonte in right and Yrizarri at shortstop to score an unearned run and take a 6-5 lead. The 'Dads attempted one last gasp when Yrizarri was hit by a pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th, but the Hickory base runner was thrown out trying to steal second to end the game with a 6-5 loss.

The Crawdads (33-25) will now go on the road for a week, starting with a 4-game series in Kannapolis beginning Thursday night at 7:05 pm.

Appalachian State University baseball outfielder Tanner Mann-Fix (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) became the fourth freshman all-American in school history on Wednesday when he was named to the 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman all-America team. The honorees were selected by Collegiate Baseball magazine.

A true freshman from Charlotte, N.C., Mann-Fix saw action in 49 games in his first collegiate season and made 46 starts, all in center field. He hit .293 with 11 doubles, five triples and four home runs. His five triples led the Mountaineers and ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference. He also tied for the team lead with 11 doubles and 20 extra-base hits. He ranked second on the team in batting average, slugging percentage (.483), hits (51), multi-hit games (17) and outfield assists (3).

Mann-Fix was named the Sun Belt’s Student-Athlete of the Week on May 2 after producing a .467/.556/1.133 batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage slash line over four games, which included a conference series victory over Arkansas State.

He joins infielder Hector Crespo (2010), pitcher Jamie Nunn (2012) and outfielder Jaylin Davis (2013) as the only freshman all-Americans in Appalachian State’s 113-year baseball history.

Mann-Fix was one of 24 underclassmen (14 freshmen, 10 sophomores) on App State’s ultra-young roster in 2016. The Mountaineers finished 18-36 overall but return as many as many as 25 letterwinners, including eight starters and their entire pitching rotation, to the roster in 2017.

Union County: 17
Maiden: 0

On the same day that the Hickory Crawdads lost their team home run leader Andy Ibanez to a promotion the 'Dads bats responded with a season-high 4 home runs, as Tyler Sanchez, Josh Altmann, Jose Almonte, and Eric Jenkins all went deep Tuesday night to lead Hickory to a 5-1 win over the Greensboro Grasshoppers at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The long ball outburst led the way for an 11-hit game for the Crawdads, with newcomers Carlos Arroyo (3-4) and Connor McKay (2-4, 2 2B) both posting multi-hit games while making their 2016 'Dads debut. All the offense provided more than enough support for starting pitcher Jonathan Hernandez and the Hickory bullpen, as the right-hander tossed 5 shutout innings while the pitching staff combined to hold Greensboro to 1 run on 6 hits on the night.

The big fly onslaught began in the bottom of the 2nd, when Sanchez unloaded on a solo home run to left to give the Crawdads an early 1-0 lead. The advantage doubled to 2-0 the next inning when Altmann lined a solo shot to left.

Two frames later, Ti'Quan Forbes led off the home-half of the 5th with an infield single before Almonte clubbed a 2-run homer to left to stretch the 'Dads lead to 4-0. The Grasshoppers got on the board in the top of the 7th with a leadoff double from Angel Reyes and an eventual RBI groundout by Giovanny Alfonzo to make the score 4-1, but the 'Dads responded in the bottom of the inning when Jenkins lined a solo shot over the right field fence for the last Hickory homer of the night and the final 5-1 score.

Hernandez (6-4) earned the win for the Crawdads with 5 scoreless innings pitched on 2 hits, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts, while Grasshoppers' starter Steven Farnworth took the loss after giving up 4 runs on 8 hits, 3 homers, and 3 Ks over 5 IP.

'Dads relievers Adam Choplick, Joe Palumbo, and John Werner combined to toss 4 innings out of the bullpen with 1 run allowed on 4 hits and 5 strikeouts.

The Crawdads (33-24) and Grasshoppers (30-28) will play the decisive rubber match of their 3-game series Wednesday morning, with first pitch scheduled for 10:30 am.

Eric Krupa, president of the South Atlantic League, has announced the rosters for the 57th Annual SAL All-Star Game, scheduled to be played on June 21, 2016, at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Kentucky, home of the Lexington Legends.

For the Northern Division, the Hagerstown Suns placed five players on the roster, including second baseman Max Schrock, third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, and center fielder Victor Robles. The Delmarva Shorebirds, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Hickory Crawdads and Kannapolis Intimidators each provide four players. The Delmarva Shorebirds provide starting catcher Yermin Mercedes and designated hitter Alex Murphy, the Greensboro Grasshoppers provide first baseman Josh Naylor, and the Hickory Crawdads provide shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri. The West Virginia Power contribute three players, including starting pitcher Mitch Keller and left fielder Tito Polo. The Lakewood BlueClaws contribute two players, including right fielder Jose Pujols.

Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson will skipper the Northern Division All-Stars for the second time in three years, having also been named manager in 2014. Anderson is in his third season managing in the league, and his fourth year as a manager in the Minor Leagues. Anderson will be assisted by Hagerstown coaches Amaury Garcia and Sam Narron. Handling the athletic trainer's duties for the Northern Division for the second consecutive year will be West Virginia's Dom Cappozzo.

For the Southern Division, the Greenville Drive and Rome Braves both placed five players on the team, with Greenville providing designated hitter Josh Ockimey and Rome contributing center fielder Ray-Patrick Didder. The Asheville Tourists and Augusta GreenJackets each provided four players, with Asheville providing first baseman Brian Mundell, shortstop Brendan Rodgers, right fielder Yonathan Daza and left fielder Sam Hilliard. The Charleston RiverDogs and Columbia Fireflies each contributed three players, with Columbia providing starting pitcher P.J. Conlon, second baseman Vinny Sienna and third baseman David Thompson. The Lexington Legends provided two players, including catcher Chase Vallot.

Charleston skipper Luis Dorante will manage the Southern Division squad. Dorante is in his fourteenth season as a manager. Dorante will be joined on the Southern Division coaching staff by Lexington's Omar Ramirez and Charleston pitching coach Justin Pope. Lexington's Mark Keiser will serve as the team's athletic trainer.

Both all-star teams will be represented by 26 players, selected by the votes of the team’s managers and coaching staffs, local media and front office executives. Whitaker Bank Ballpark will be hosting its second SAL All-Star Game. The first time was in 2003, when the Southern Division beat the Northern Division 3-2. The annual SAL All-Star Game dates to 1960, when the All-Stars defeated the Salisbury club, 6-2, in Newton, NC.

"Once again, we look forward to enjoying a game showcasing the incredible talent in this league," said Krupa. “Lexington Legends President Andy Shea, General Manager Gary Durbin and the entire staff in Lexington have been working for more than a year to live up to the tradition and host one of the most enjoyable events on our baseball calendar.”

A variety of events have been scheduled in Lexington in conjunction with the 57th SAL All-Star Game. The Monday Night Live Gala in downtown Lexington will be held on Monday, June 20th. A luncheon will be held at 11:30am on Tuesday, June 21 at Tony's of Lexington. Gates open at 2:30pm at Whitaker Bank Ballpark for FanFest and autographs. The Legendary Derby (a whimsical combination of elements from a traditional home run derby with the Kentucky Derby) will begin at 4:45pm. Brad Redmon will be inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame during a pre-game ceremony and first pitch of the 57th Annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on June 21st is scheduled for 7:05pm. More information can be found at www.lexingtonlegends.com.

* * * * *

2016 South Atlantic League All-Stars
NORTHERN DIVISION

MANAGER
Patrick Anderson, Hagerstown

COACH
Amaury Garcia, Hagerstown

COACH
Sam Narron, Hagerstown

PITCHERS
Mitch Keller, West Virginia
Tanner Banks, Kannapolis
Garrett Cleavinger, Delmarva
Ben Holmes, Greensboro
Ryan Meisinger, Delmarva
Pedro Payano, Hickory
Mariano Rivera, Hagerstown
Jefry Rodriguez, Hagerstown
C.J. Robinson, Greensboro
Erik Swanson, Hickory
Zach Thompson, Kannapolis

CATCHERS
Yermin Mercedes, Delmarva
Tyler Sanchez, Hickory
Seby Zavala, Kannapolis

FIRST BASEMAN
Josh Naylor, Greensboro

SECOND BASEMAN
Max Schrock, Hagerstown

THIRD BASEMAN
Kelvin Gutierrez, Hagerstown

SHORTSTOP
Yeyson Yrizarri, Hickory

UTILITY INFIELDER
Ke'Bryan Hayes, West Virginia

UTILITY INFIELDER
Josh Tobias, Lakewood

RIGHT FIELD
Jose Pujols, Lakewood

CENTER FIELD
Victor Robles, Hagerstown

LEFT FIELD
Tito Polo, West Virginia

UTILITY OUTFIELDER
Landon Lassiter, Kannapolis

UTILITY OUTFIELDER
Isael Soto, Greensboro

DESIGNATED HITTER
Alex Murphy, Delmarva

TRAINER
Dom Cappozzo, West Virginia

SOUTHERN DIVISION

MANAGER
Luis Dorante, Charleston

COACH
Omar Ramirez, Lexington

COACH
Justin Pope, Charleston

PITCHERS
P.J. Conlon, Columbia
Phil Bickford, Augusta
Cody Carroll, Charleston
Jake Cosart, Greenville
Emilio Ogando, Lexington
Roniel Raudes, Greenville
Michael Santos, Augusta
Andrew Schwaab, Charleston
Mike Soroka, Rome
Daris Vargas, Charleston
Patrick Weigel, Rome

CATCHERS
Chase Vallot, Lexington
Jonathan Morales, Rome
Matt Winn, Augusta

FIRST BASEMAN
Brian Mundell, Asheville

SECOND BASEMAN
Vinny Siena, Columbia

THIRD BASEMAN
David Thompson, Columbia

SHORTSTOP
Brendan Rodgers, Asheville

UTILITY INFIELDER
Luis Alejandro Basabe, Greenville

UTILITY INFIELDER
Luke Dykstra, Rome

RIGHT FIELD
Yonathan Daza, Asheville

CENTER FIELD
Ray-Patrick Didder, Rome

LEFT FIELD
Sam Hilliard, Asheville

UTILITY OUTFIELDER
Dylan Davis, Augusta

UTILITY OUTFIELDER
Tate Matheny, Greenville

DESIGNATED HITTER
Josh Ockimey, Greenville

TRAINER
Mark Keiser, Lexington

Wells Fargo, along with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, has announced the final standings in the Wells Fargo Conference Cup competitions for the 2016 spring sports season.

The Wells Fargo Cup award, sponsored by Wells Fargo and the NCHSAA, recognizes the schools that achieve the best overall interscholastic athletic performance within each of the state’s four competitive classifications.

The Wells Fargo Conference Cup is a companion to the Wells Fargo Cup and recognizes schools with the best overall interscholastic athletic performances within individual conferences. Wachovia, and now Wells Fargo, has sponsored the conference awards program since 1980.

In most conferences, points are awarded based on participation and standings in conference play. Each conference determines its own method of awarding points and standings reflect what was reported by each Conference President. Conferences are listed alphabetically by classification.

Class 2-A Conference Results:
Southern District 7 2-A: In a close race, East Lincoln gets the top spot after the spring season with a women’s track championship and a men’s track second-place finish. Maiden is in second place with runner-up finishes in baseball and men’s tennis. In third is Newton-Conover thanks to titles in men’s tennis and women’s soccer along with a second-place finish in men’s golf. Conference Standings: East Lincoln 95, Maiden 93, Newton-Conover 90.5, Lincolnton 76, West Lincoln 71.5, Bunker Hill 68, Bandys 55.5, West Caldwell 55.5.

Class 2-A/3-A Conference Results:
South Mountain Athletic 2-A/3-A: With a spectacular spring season, Kings Mountain is in first place thanks to championships in women’s soccer, women’s track and men’s golf. Shelby is in second place with men’s track and men’s tennis titles. Close behind Shelby, in third place, is Crest with a baseball championship and a runner-up finish in men’s golf. Conference Standings: Kings Mountain 134.5, Shelby 104.5, Crest 103, R.S. Central 99.5, Draughn 90.5, East Burke 88, East Rutherford 75, Chase 56, Burns 51.

Class 3-A/4-A Conference Results:
North Piedmont 3-A/4-A: Championships in baseball, women’s soccer and men’s tennis procure the top spot for Lake Norman after the spring season. Mooresville is in second place thanks to a second-place finish in men’s track. In third is South Iredell with second-place finishes in women’s soccer and women’s track. Conference Standings: Lake Norman 842.5, Mooresville 720, South Iredell 702.5, Alexander Central 700, North Iredell 520, North Lincoln 515, Statesville 485, West Iredell 445.

Northwestern Athletic 3-A/4-A: Hickory takes control of the conference after the spring season thanks to a championship in women’s soccer and runner-up finishes in men’s track and men’s tennis. Watauga is in second place thanks to a women’s soccer championship and a runner-up finish in men’s tennis. In third place is South Caldwell with championships in men’s track and baseball. Conference Standings: Hickory 216, Watauga 205, South Caldwell 199, St. Stephens 198, Freedom 183.5, Patton 162.5, Hibriten 156.5, Fred T. Foard 151.5.

The Hickory Crawdads received a jolt of offense when Jose Almonte clubbed a 2-run home run in his first at-bat in nearly 3 weeks Monday night, but that would be all the 'Dads bats could muster as Hickory fell to the visiting Greensboro Grasshoppers by a final score of 5-2 at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Almonte rejoined the Crawdads following an 18-day stint on the Extended Spring Training roster and promptly lined a go-ahead, 2-out, 2-run home run to left in his first at-bat in the 2nd inning. That big blast proved to be the last burst of offense for the 'Dads however, as Hickory was held scoreless on a hit, a walk, and hit batter over the remaining 7 innings.

Greensboro jumped on top of the Crawdads with a run in the top of the 2nd, as Roy Morales drew a leadoff walk off of 'Dads starter Pedro Payano before stealing second base and scoring on an RBI double from Justin Twine for a 1-0 Grasshoppers lead. Hickory responded in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff, infield single by Dylan Moore followed two outs later by Almonte's 2-run blast to left to give the Crawdads a 2-1 advantage.

The 'Hoppers quickly tied the score with an unearned tally in the 3rd, when Casey Stolis walked, was sacrificed over to second, and eventually scored on a fielding error by 'Dads third baseman Frandy De La Rosa to deadlock the game at 2-2.

Both starting pitchers settled in from there, with Payano going 6 total innings with 2 runs allowed, 1 earned run, on 4 hits, 3 walks, and 8 strikeouts. Greensboro starter Chris Paddack lasted 4.1 IP with 2 runs given up on 4 hits.

The score remained tied until the 7th, when the Grasshoppers mounted a 2-out rally against Hickory reliever Blake Bass to score 3 runs for a 5-2 lead. Bass began the inning with back-to-back strikeouts before walking Soltis and allowing a single to Anfernee Seymour. The righty reliever looked to be out of the inning when the next batter, Zach Sullivan, hit a ground ball to third, but De La Rosa threw low to first base with the resulting error allowing a run to score and the frame to continue. Two batters later, Morales delivered a 2-RBI single to left to give the 'Hoppers the 5-2 advantage they would go on to win by.

Bass (2-1) took the loss for the Crawdads with 3 unearned runs allowed on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts in his 1 inning pitched. Grasshoppers' reliever Jeff Kinley (5-2) earned the win after tossing 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Almonte finished the game 1-2 with his 5th homer of the season and a hit-by-pitch, while Moore went 1-4 with a run scored.

The Crawdads (32-24) and Grasshoppers (30-27) will play again Tuesday night at 7:00 pm in game two of the 3-game series.

Gaston Braves: 15
Maiden: 5

Rutherford County: 12
Hickory: 5

Taylorsville: 7
Henderson: 2

Lenoir-Rhyne University has elevated Luis Velez to Director of Strength & Conditioning and Assistant Athletic Trainer. Velez, a 2001 graduate of LR, has been an athletic trainer, preceptor and adjunct instructor for Lenoir-Rhyne for the past 11 years.

“I am very excited to have this unique opportunity to serve Lenoir-Rhyne athletics in this capacity,” said Velez. “My goal is to promote injury prevention while enhancing athletic performance. I look forward to working together with our coaches to address the sport-specific fitness needs of their teams. I want to thank (Director of Athletics) Kim Pate and (Associate AD & Head Athletic Trainer) Michael Flicker for their guidance and support in presenting me with this role.”

Velez has worked at Lenoir-Rhyne since the fall of 2005 and served as the primary athletic trainer for several sports including men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis and baseball.

In addition, Velez has taught courses in Lenoir-Rhyne University’s School of Health, Exercise, and Sports Science and directed speed and conditioning academies for Bears’ student-athletes and local youths in the summer.

“We are truly blessed to have someone of Luis’ (Velez) caliber on staff to develop a top-notch strength & conditioning program that will quickly outmatch any others across Division II. Luis brings a tremendous background in strength and conditioning and incredible passion to develop student-athletes to their full performance potential,” said Kim Pate, Lenoir-Rhyne’s Director of Athletics. “He is highly respected by the coaches and student-athletes and was instrumental this past year in developing the men’s basketball team’s strength and conditioning program on their way to a historical NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearance.”

Prior to Lenoir-Rhyne, Velez worked two years at Florida Tech (2003-05) in Melbourne, Fla., where he served as an Assistant Athletic Trainer.

Velez earned his bachelor’s degree in sports medicine/athletic training before receiving has master’s degree in education with a concentration in health and exercise science from Furman University in 2003.

Pate also touched on a newly-established structure to support a comprehensive sports performance program for Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics:

“I’m pleased to announce the new staffing structure to support a comprehensive strength and conditioning program for all 22 Lenoir-Rhyne intercollegiate athletics teams,” said Pate. “This enhancement is extremely important to support player development, player safety & injury prevention, and ultimately position our teams to perform and compete at the highest level. Our vision is to develop one of the top sports performance programs across DII focused on a holistic and innovative approach to player development.”

Michael Flicker will assume the role of Associate Athletic Director of Sport Performance in addition to his current duties as Head Athletic Trainer at Lenoir-Rhyne. The sports performance program will incorporate all facets of sports performance including nutrition, mental wellness, sport analytics and rest and recovery.

“I’m excited for Kim’s (Pate) development of this sports performance program for Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics,” said Flicker. “I am very pleased Luis (Velez) will be taking on the director of strength and conditioning role in addition to his athletic training duties.”

“We will also look to add two graduate assistant positions to assist Luis (Velez) with strength and conditioning while working with the School of Health, Exercise, and Sports Science to foster a positive relationship in support of student learning opportunities as well as to maximize use of the resources on campus,” said Pate.

Appalachian State University wrestling’s Denzel Dejournette (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds) and Cary Miller (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) competed in the University Freestyle Nationals Tournament over the weekend held at the Louis & Freda Stile Athletic Fieldhouse at the University of Akron. Dejournette represented the Mountaineers with a solid eighth-place finish at the tournament.

Miller and Dejournette were two of 60 student-athletes that took part in the tournament in the 125KG weight division.

Featuring wrestlers from schools such as Purdue, North Carolina, Maryland and Indiana, the 2015-16 SoCon Wrestler of the Year in Dejournette held his own with a 6-2 mark overall while reeling off six-consecutive victories in the consolation bracket and ending up in the seventh-place match. Four of his wins resulted in technical fall and the other two via decision.

For Miller, the grappler won his first round match before ending up in the consolation bracket and earning a triumph as well.

The Mountaineers are coming off a historic season with a SoCon Conference Championship, a SoCon Coach of the Year Award (JohnMark Bentley), SoCon Wrestler of the Year (Dejournette), three conference individual championships and a solid showing at the NCAA Championships at Madison Square Garden.