Hickory, NC - After sitting for two days with back-to-back rainouts in Hagerstown the Hickory Crawdads were finally back in action Thursday night, splitting their doubleheader against the Suns with a 7-3 win in game one and a 4-3 loss in the nightcap from Municipal Stadium.
Game one saw the 'Dads offense come through with seven runs on nine hits, including a 3-4 night with 3 RBIs from Evan Van Hoosier. The second game was a back and forth affair that included four lead changes before the Suns scored the winning run on a Hickory error in the bottom of the 7th for a 4-3 'Dads loss.
Van Hoosier got the Hickory offense rolling in the first inning of game one, doubling off the center field wall before scoring two batters later on an RBI groundout by Ronald Guzman for a 1-0 Crawdads lead.
The Suns quickly tied up the game at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the first, but the 'Dads took advantage of a costly Hagerstown error to plate four unearned runs and take a 5-1 lead in the second. Following a Kellin Deglan single to start the frame, Eduard Pinto laid down a sacrifice bunt that Suns pitcher Austin Voth threw high to second to allow both runners to reach safely. Travis Demeritte followed with a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out.
Strikeouts to both Jairo Beras and Nick Urbanus threatened to undo the inning, but Van Hoosier came through again with a 3-RBI, bases clearing double off the center field wall. Nick Vickerson followed with a double of his own to center to score Van Hoosier and put the 'Dads up by four.
The Suns narrowed the deficit to 5-3 with a pair of runs in the 4th, but the Crawdads answered with single runs in the 6th and 7th for the final 7-3 margin. Van Hoosier ended the game 3-4, with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored, while Vickerson finished 2-4 with two doubles, a RBI, and a run scored.
Hickory relief pitcher Ryne Slack (2-0) earned the win with two shutout frames out of the bullpen. Voth (0-2) took the loss for Hagerstown after allowing a season-high five runs, one earned, on six hits and five strikeouts over five innings pitched.
The nightcap started much quieter than it's predecessor, with an unearned run by the Suns in the second giving the team a 1-0 lead through three innings. The Crawdads responded in the 4th when Demeritte lined his team-leading 4th homer run of the year to right, a 2-run shot to give the 'Dads a 2-1 advantage.
Hagerstown quickly came back with a run in the bottom of the 4th to tie the score at 2-2, before third baseman Drew Ward hit a solo blast to right for a 3-2 Suns lead in the 5th. Ward would finish the game going 4-4 with a homer, following a game one in which he walked in all three plate appearances.
The Crawdads had one last rally in them, as Nomar Mazara drove in Van Hoosier with an RBI single to right to tie the game again at 3-3 in the top of the 7th. The 'Dads would eventually load the bases in the inning with only one out, but Demeritte grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep the score tied.
In the bottom of the 7th it was a pair of errors by Urbanus at third that proved to be the Crawdads undoing. The Suns used Urbanus' first miscue to help put runners at second and third with two outs, before Hickory reliever Cody Kendall induced a ground ball to third. Urbanus threw wide of first however, allowing the run to score from third and giving the 'Dads a 4-3 loss.
Hagerstown reliever Justin Thomas (1-2) earned the win despite blowing the save in the 7th with one run allowed on two hits. Kendall (1-2) was the hard luck loser for the Crawdads, after allowing the unearned run in the bottom of the 7th.
Van Hoosier had another good game in the loss, finishing 2-4 with a double and a run scored. Beras went 2-3 with a double while Demeritte ended the night 1-3 with a home run, two RBIs, and a hit-by-pitch.
The twin bill split leaves the Crawdads (12-13) seven games back of the Suns (19-6) in the South Atlantic League Northern Division. The 'Dads will now travel to Kannapolis to start a 4-game series with the Intimidators. Game one on Friday is scheduled for 7:05 pm.