Hickory, NC - The Hickory Crawdads and West Virginia Power wrapped up their three-game series with their third straight 3-1 final score Wednesday afternoon, unfortunately for the 'Dads they were on the wrong end of that score for the second time in the series as they fell to the Power in front of 3,023 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Continuing a series trend, runs were at a premium for both teams as the Crawdads were held to one run on six hits while the Power plated three runs on 11 hits, 8 of them singles. The difference in the game came down to both teams' performance with the bases loaded and no outs, as West Virginia came through with two runs in the 6th while Hickory was turned away empty handed in the same situation in the 7th.
The game began with four straight scoreless frames, with Crawdads starter Luis Ortiz and Power hurler Alex McRae swapping zeros. West Virginia finally broke through for the contest's first run in the top of the 5th to take a 1-0 lead. Trace Tam Sing started the inning for the Power with a single to right, then was able to go first to third on a sacrifice bunt by teammate Tyler Filliben. One out later, Connor Joe hit a hard ground ball off the glove of Hickory third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa for an RBI infield single to put West Virginia ahead.
The 'Dads quickly countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, with Kiner-Falefa singling to left with two outs, stealing second base, and eventually scoring on an RBI single to right by Jose Cardona to tie the game at 1-1.
The tie didn't last long, with the Power jumping on Crawdads reliever Austin Pettibone for two runs on four hits in the 6th to re-take the advantage 3-1. Michael Suchy began the inning with a base knock to right before both Pablo Reyes and Tito Polo reached on sacrifice bunt attempts that turned into bunt singles. Kawika Emsley-Pai followed with a bases-loaded RBI walk to bring in the first run, while Filliben plated the second tally one out later with an RBI single.
Hickory looked to jump back in the game with a no out, bases loaded situation of their on in the 7th, when Rock Shoulders walked and both Travis Demeritte and Tripp Martin singled. West Virginia reliever Miguel Rosario was able to escape the inning unharmed however, as the right-hander induced shallow fly outs by both Kevin Torres and Kiner-Falefa before Cardona flew out to right to end the inning.
Rosario sat the 'Dads down in order in the 8th, while Power closer Nick Neuman retired the side in the 9th to give the Crawdads the final 3-1 defeat.
McRae (3-3) earned the win for the Power with one run allowed on four hits, no walks, and four strikeouts over six innings pitched. Pettibone (0-1) took the loss for the Crawdads with two runs given up on five hits during his two innings on the mound. Neuman earned his 5th save of the year for West Virginia with a perfect 9th inning.
Martin finished with the only multi-hit game for Hickory, going 2-4. Cardona ended the afternoon 1-4 with an RBI, while Kiner-Falefa went 1-3 with a run scored.
The Crawdads (27-11) still maintain a 5.5 game lead over the Power (22-17) in the South Atlantic League Northern Division. The 'Dads will now take to the road, playing five games in four days in Kannapolis. The series starts with a doubleheader on Thursday, with first pitch for game one scheduled for 5:00 pm.