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Saturday, 05 July 2014 18:00

Capacity Crowd Sees Crawdads Nearly Rally, But Fall 9-7

Demeritte  hits 17th home run of season in loss Demeritte hits 17th home run of season in loss Hickory Crawdads

The Hickory Crawdads made a valiant attempt at a major comeback Friday night with a 4-run rally in the 8th, but ultimately the 'Dads bats came up just short in a 9-7 loss to the Savannah Sand Gnats in front of a 4th of July crowd of 4,793 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

An 8-1 deficit through four innings threatened to turn the battle of first place teams into a one sided affair, but the never-say-die-'Dads plated two in the sixth and four in the 8th to put the tying run on second with nobody out. The Sand Gnats were able to escape the inning however and hold on for the win, as 'Gnats All-Star closer Akeel Morris left the tying man on base in the 8th and shut down the Crawdads in the 9th to end the game at 9-7.

Joe Jackson and Travis Demeritte helped ignite the Hickory rally with both batters going 2-5 with a solo home run, while Ryan Cordell ended the game 1-4 with a double, two RBIs and a walk. Jairo Beras also posted a multi-hit game, going 2-5 to extend his hit streak to eight games.

The first four frames of the game belonged to Savannah, as the Sand Gnats built their early 8-1 lead off of Crawdads starter Tyler Smith with three runs in the 1st and two in the 2nd, before plating three more tallies on Smith and Felix Carvallo in the 4th. The 'Dads defense didn't help matters, with four team errors in the first four innings resulting in an unearned run. The lone Hickory tally over that stretch occurred in the 2nd, when Demeritte singled and eventually scored on an error by 'Gnats shortstop Yeixon Ruiz.

Down but not out, the Crawdads bullpen trio of Carvallo, Kevin Pucetas, and Jose Valdespina combined to keep the 'Dads in the game with 5.2 solid innings of relief that included two runs allowed on two hits. With the Savannah offense held at bay, Hickory got back in the game with a pair of solo home runs by Jackson (4) and Demeritte (17) in the 6th to cut the score to 8-3.

The rally continued two innings later in the 8th, when the first five Crawdads batters reached base and scored four runs to pull the 'Dads within a run with an 8-7 score. A combination of a walk to Kellin Deglan, singles from Jairo Beras and Ronald Guzman, a pair of run-scoring wild pitches by Sand Gnats reliever Bret Mitchell, and another single from Luis Marte brought in the first two runs, while Cordell delivered the major blow with a 2-RBI double to left.

The comeback stalled there however, as Mitchell induced popups from Michael De Leon and Jackson before a diving stop by Savannah second baseman Jonathan Johnson took a game tying hit away from Nomar Mazara and ended the threat. The 'Gnats scored one last run in the top of the 9th for the game's final 9-7 score.

Smith (4-2) took the loss for the Crawdads with seven runs allowed, six earned, on 10 hits over his 4.1 innings pitched. Savannah starter Ricky Knapp (3-5) earned the win after allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits during his 5.2 innings on the mound. Morris earned his seventh save of the year after recording the final four outs of the game.

The Crawdads (13-3) will try to bounce back and snap the Sand Gnats (12-4) eight-game winning streak in game two of the three game series Saturday night at 7:00 pm.

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