Demeritte, Crawdads come to life late

Rangers' No. 14 prospect goes yard in third consecutive game

Travis Demeritte has lifted his average 28 points to .234 over his last 11 games. (Tracy Proffitt/Hickory Crawdads)

By Tyler Maun / | June 1, 2014 9:32 PM ET

Through the first five innings of Sunday's series finale, Travis Demeritte and his Class A Hickory teammates couldn't get their bats going. Turns out, they saved their best for last.

The Rangers' No. 14 prospect homered for the third straight game as the Crawdads erupted for seven runs over the final four frames to beat Greenville, 7-2.

The Crawdads had their opportunities early on Sunday afternoon but never delivered a big hit against Drive starter Daniel McGrath. The 19-year-old Australian created his own problems by walking five over 4 1/3 innings but limited Hickory to three hits and stranded runners in three of the four frames he completed.

Greenville jumped to the lead with the help of Hickory's defense. Third baseman Nick Vickerson committed a throwing error that allowed No. 14 Red Sox prospect Wendell Rijo to score in the second and Jantzen Witte added an RBI double in the third.

After McGrath's departure, the Crawdads came to life. They loaded the bases with one out in the sixth for Evan Van Hoosier, who singled home Rangers No. 8 prospect Lewis Brinson and Demeritte. Vickerson atoned for his miscue with a run-scoring single, aided by an error by right fielder Forrestt Allday, to give the Crawdads their first lead.

"We came together as a team and put together great at-bats later on in the game," Demeritte said. "Earlier, we missed a couple pitches that we thought we should've had. We started clicking toward the end and put together some good innings.

"We're not giving up. We're putting pressure on the other team, putting pressure on the pitcher to make pitches, getting pitch counts up to get in deep into the bullpen. I really like that."

In the seventh, Nomar Mazara -- Texas' ninth-ranked prospect -- doubled, took third on Brinson's base hit and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rangers' No. 15 prospect Ronald Guzman. An inning later, Mazara singled home Joe Jackson.

Demeritte provided the final punctuation on the win, following Guzman's leadoff single in the ninth with his South Atlantic League-leading 12th homer.

"I didn't change anything," Demeritte said of his recent power surge. "I'm just trying to simplify everything, simplify the game a little bit. Before, I was letting it get ahead of me, and I'm just trying to slow things down, see the ball up and get some good pitches to hit."

Demeritte has hits in nine of his last 11 games and is batting .325 (13-for-40) over that span with four homers and nine RBIs.

"I'm trying to be more of a student of the game," he said. "I've been watching pitchers a lot more, finding out what their putaway pitch is, how they pitch to certain guys who are like me. Just being more of a student, locking in on a pitcher and focusing at the plate."

The outburst helped Crawdads starter Tyler Smith (2-1) pick up the win. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts over five innings.

Greenville reliever Myles Smith (1-4) surrendered four runs -- three earned -- on five hits while walking two and striking out three over 2 1/3 innings.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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