HICKORY, NC - On Christmas in July at L.P. Frans Stadium, Santa brought a lump of coal to the Delmarva Shorebirds in the form of a six-run Hickory Crawdad seventh, and the Crawdads took the Friday night opener 8-2.
Tied 2-2 after the stretch and Francisco Jimenez in from the bullpen, Elio Castillo led off with a grounder to short, but Chris Clare threw it high to first and into the dugout for a two-base error. Blaine Prescott followed with a walk, and Brallan Perez dropped a single into center, scoring Castillo to give the Crawdads (10-6, 37-49) the lead. Leody Taveras followed with a single to almost the same spot in center to plate Prescott and make it 4-2.
Alex Kowalczyk took a fastball off the forearm to load the bases, and Ricardo Valencia rolled a single past Jiménez's feet and into center, scoring two. After a groundout and a pitching change, Franklin Rollin pinch-hit and chopped a grounder to third that Collin Woody couldn't get in front of. Two more scored on the bookend two-base error, and Hickory had six in the seventh to go up 8-2.
The Shorebirds (9-7, 38-46) couldn't get a rally going, only putting Frank Crinella on base in the ninth after an error.
Kaleb Fontenot (4-2) got the win in relief for the Crawdads, tossing four scoreless two-hit innings. He walked none and struck out two. Jiménez (4-2) took the loss after allowing all six seventh-inning runs (three earned) on three hits in just two-thirds of an inning.
Prescott belted a home run to lead off the first inning and give Hickory an immediate lead. Delmarva responded with a big blast in the fourth. Preston Palmeiro led off with a walk and Woody punctured a cloud with a long home run over the fence in left. Woody's fourth home run of the season gave the Shorebirds a 2-1 advantage.
The advantage was short-lived, though, as Hickory got a run to tie it in the bottom of the fourth on a Ricardo Valencia double and Castillo RBI single.
Woody's two-run homer was the only extra-base knock of the Shorebirds' five hits on the night. Jake Ring, Palmeiro, Alejandro Juvier, and Daniel Fajardo each had a single.
Prescott led the way at the plate for the Crawdads, going 2-for-4 with the leadoff home run, a double, and two runs scored. Valencia went 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of runs and RBIs, and Perez finished 2-for-5 with a run and the go-ahead RBI.
Zach Muckenhirn picked up his second straight quality start in a no-decision. Muckenhirn lasted six inning, allowing two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out three.
Hickory starter Michael Matuella couldn't get an out in the fourth, allowing two runs on three hits while walking three in three-plus innings.
The Shorebirds get back to it on Saturday night as Matthias Dietz (0-7, 5.03) squares off against the Crawdads' Sal Mendez (4-5, 5.72). First pitch is 7:00 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports AM 960 and the MiLB First Pitch app begins at 6:45 p.m. with Will DeBoer on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.