Kannapolis, NC - The Hickory Crawdads continued a recent string of excellent pitching Saturday night and this time backed it up with a couple of home runs en route to a 4-1 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators at CMC-NorthEast Stadium.
Crawdads starting pitcher Cole Wiper was effectively wild in the game, as the right-hander walked a season-high four batters but didn't allow a run while only giving up one hit and striking out six over 5.2 innings pitched. Wiper's shutout performance was backed up by homers from Nick Vickerson and Kellin Deglan to give the 'Dads the series opening win over Kannapolis.
The game started with three scoreless frames for both teams, as Wiper was matched by Intimidators starter Thaddius Lowry, who making his South Atlantic League debut. The 'Dads finally got to Lowry in the 4th, when Vickerson launched the first pitch of the inning over the wall in left for a solo homer and a 1-0 Hickory lead.
The advantage grew to 2-0 in the 6th when Vickerson walked with one out, moved to third on a two-out single from Nomar Mazara, and eventually scored on a wild pitch by Kannapolis reliever Jose Brito.
The Crawdads pushed the lead to 4-0 the next inning, with Joe Jackson singled to left to start the frame before Deglan lofted a towering long ball to right for a 2-run homer.
The 'Dads appeared to be well on their way to a second straight shutout win before the Intimidators loaded the bases in the 9th on a pair of walks and an error. Hickory reliever Cody Kendall entered and was able to close the door, allowing only an unearned run on a groundout before inducing a popup to end the game with the 4-1 Crawdads win.
The unearned run in the 9th did break a string of 19-straight scoreless innings by the Crawdads pitching staff, dating back to the middle of game one of the 'Dads doubleheader in Charleston on Friday.
Wiper (2-5) earned the win for the 'Dads while Lowry (0-1) was the hard luck loser after allowing just one run on three hits and four strikeouts over five innings pitched. Kendall earned his first save of the season after getting the final two outs in the 9th.
Vickerson went 1-3 with a home run, RBI, and two runs scored in the win. Deglan finished 1-4 with his two-run homer while Jackson ended the night 2-4 with a triple and a run scored.
The win is the third in the last four games for the Crawdads (19-22), while the Intimidators (20-21) have now lost three of four. The two clubs will meet up again Sunday night at 5:05 pm for game two of the 4-game series.