Martin helps put Hickory a win from crown

Texas lefty returns with four scoreless innings in Sally Finals Game 2

Brett Martin was out of the Crawdads rotation for almost three weeks due to a hip injury. (Ken Inness\MiLB.com)

By Bob Sutton / Special to MiLB.com | September 15, 2015 10:58 PM

HICKORY, North Carolina -- Brett Martin missed a few turns in the Crawdads rotation, but he didn't squander his chance to catapult the team toward a championship.

Texas' No. 16 prospect returned from a nearly three-week layoff and provided a boost in Class A Hickory's 3-1 victory against the Asheville Tourists in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League Finals on Tuesday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

"I just wanted to do my part," said Martin, who had been sidelined by a hip ailment. "The first ball I threw today, I knew I was going to be fine. It was an awesome feeling."

The 20-year-old left-hander allowed two baserunners on a pair of singles while striking out four across four shutout innings.

While Martin had been a mainstay for the Crawdads during the season, newcomer Dylan Moore has added a September boost. The second baseman drove in two runs in Game 2 and has become a spark near the top of the Hickory's batting order.

But it was the 2014 fourth-rounder who set the tone as the Crawdads moved within a game of winning their first title since 2004. Hickory has allowed only three runs en route to a 2-0 series lead.

Martin struck out the side in the second inning and didn't issue any walks in the start.

"I wanted to go out and help my team and do what I could," he said, calling it his best outing in terms of efficiency.

That's what it looked like to Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale too.

"That was pretty impressive, huh?" Ragsdale said. "Especially missing the time that he did, to throw that well is a shot in the arm for us and for him. … It looked like he could have (gone longer). But four (innings) was the number. He did it pretty easy."

Adam Dian, Shane McCain, Luis Ortiz and Scott Williams followed Martin to the mound in the combined five-hitter. Hickory turned two double plays in the middle innings, and otherwise, mostly stayed out of trouble.

"We had a couple chances and we hit into the fewest double plays in the league all season by far," Asheville manager Warren Schaeffer said. "We just couldn't get anything going with the running game and (catcher Jose) Trevino is tough back there."

The Crawdads also benefited from the postseason's second two-inning shutout stint in relief by Ortiz, who was exclusively a starter for Hickory during the regular season.

Moore, a seventh-round Draft pick out of the University of Central Florida in June who has been with the Crawdads for less than two weeks, helped out on offense.

His infield single went off Asheville starter Ryan Castellani's foot, knocking in Hickory's second run in the second inning after Carlos Arroyo's RBI single. Moore drove in another run with a groundout in the fourth.

"I could tell they had camaraderie and I wanted to find my little niche," said Moore, who had been playing for Class A Short Season Spokane in the Northwest League. "When you get here or you get anywhere, it's the same game. To come here with a winning team and a higher level is great. My year started with college and now this. This is why I get up every day, to play games that matter."

Ragsdale said the 23-year-old has made all the necessary adjustments upon joining the team.

"He fit in with the guys and he has been a huge part of the success," Ragsdale said. "He has been someone who could just come in and give us what we needed."

No. 17 Rockies prospect Castellani, a 19-year-old right-hander, worked six mostly effective innings in his postseason debut. The 19-year-old right-hander ended up allowing three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits over six innings. He was aided by right fielder Yonathan Daza, who threw out Jose Cardona trying to score from second base on Trevino's fourth-inning single.

After a day off, the rest of the best-of-5 series will be played in Asheville. Game 3 will take place Thursday night.

"We've got to go back and take care of business," Schaeffer said.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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