Kannapolis, NC - The Hickory Crawdads combined some early offense with standout pitching and a little good defense Friday night for a dominant 7-2 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators at CMC-NorthEast Stadium.
The bus-lagged 'Dads didn't arrive back in Hickory from Hagerstown until the wee hours of the morning on Friday but appeared none the worse for wear, as the Crawdads jumped on Kannapolis for one run in the 1st inning, three in the 3rd, one in the 4th, and two final runs in the 5th. That proved to be ample support for Hickory starting pitcher Kelvin Vasquez who paced the 'Dads staff with 6-shutout innings.
The Crawdads offense saw eight of the 10 total batters reach base and five different players score at least one run, with Ronald Guzman (2-5, 2B, 3 RBI) and Evan Van Hoosier (1-2, 3 BB, 3 R) leading the way.
The 'Dads 1st inning tally came across without the benefit of a hit, as Van Hoosier walked to start the game, took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a fly out, and finally scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Nomar Mazara for a 1-0 Hickory lead.
The advantage swelled to 4-0 in the third, with Guzman driving in a pair with a 2-RBI double off the wall in left-center before Kellin Deglan plated Guzman with an RBI single to right. Guzman came through again in the fourth, this time with an RBI single to right to score Van Hoosier and make the lead 5-0.
The 'Dads pushed their advantage to its largest in the 5th, when Travis Demeritte crushed his team-leading fifth home run of the year to left. The 2-run shot pushed the Hickory lead to 7-0.
Kannapolis didn't get on the board until the 8th and 9th, when they pushed across a run in each inning off of Crawdads reliever Ryan Harvey to finish the game with a 7-2 score.
The Hickory defense also contributed in the win, with left fielder Eduard Pinto coming through with two great plays. The first came in the 1st inning, when Pinto ran down a line drive in left and threw back to first in time to double off the Kannapolis base runner. Pinto came through again in the 8th, this time relaying a double to left to third baseman Nick Urbanus, who threw home in time to gun down the Intimidator runner at the plate.
Vasquez (1-0) earned the win for the 'Dads after holding the Intimidators scoreless over a season-high six innings, giving up only three hits and a walk while striking out four. Kannapolis starter Andrew Mitchell (2-1) was the loser, with four runs allowed on four hits, five walks, and four strikeouts over 2.1 innings.
The win pushes the Crawdads (13-13) back to .500, while the Intimidators (14-14) fall back to .500 with the loss. The two teams will meet up again Saturday at 7:05 pm for game two of their 4-game series.