Late Rally Spoils Nestor Cortes Outing, Crawdads Win 7-2
Game 2 of the battle between the South Atlantic League division leaders was a quite different affair than the first contest. Saturday night, the Hickory Crawdads jumped out to the early lead, leading 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, then hung on to win 5-3, leaving the bases loaded in the ninth before closing it out.
Sunday, it was the Charleston RiverDogs who jumped out to the early lead, taking a 2-0 lead into the top of the sixth. From there it was all Hickory, scoring seven-runs over the next four innings to win the second game of this series, 7-2. That allowed them to maintain their half-game lead in the Northern Division.
The RiverDogs jumped out in front in the bottom of the first inning. Crawdads starter Peter Fairbanks retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Chris Gittens kept the inning alive with his sixth double of the season. Then came up Connor Spencer, who singled to center field, scoring Gittens and staking Charleston to the early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, the RiverDogs would add another run. Spencer singled to begin the frame, and Angel Aguilar doubled to left field, scoring Spencer all the way from first, and Charleston was up 2-0.
The way that Nestor Cortes was pitching, two-runs looked like a totally insurmountable lead. He retired the side in order in the first, third, and fifth innings, and had only allowed two hits though five.
In the sixth, the Crawdads were finally able to get on the board. Cortes retired the first batter of the inning, but Chris Garia turned on a Cortes offering and hit it over the left field wall for his second homerun of the season.
Cortes left after six, and David Palladino took over, but he could not hold the lead. In the seventh, Hickory tied the score using the long ball once again. Tyler Sanchez was the first batter the RiverDogs reliever would face, and he lined a shot over the left field wall for his third homerun of the season. That tied the score.
In the eighth, the Crawdads blew the game open. Andy Ibanez and Dylan Moore walked to get it started. Two batters later Yeyson Yrizarri reached on a fielder’s choice, leaving the bases loaded with just one out. Two batters later Jose Almonte gave Hickory their first lead of the game, grounding a single into left field that scored both Ibanez and Moore.
Claudio Custodio took over for Palladino, and was finally able to end the inning, but not before giving up a double to LaDarious Clark. That scored Yrizarri and Almonte to make it 6-2.
In the top of the ninth the Crawdads added one more. Frandy De La Rosa doubled to start the inning and scored on a wild pitch. That would be the last run of the game.
Omarlin Lopez (2-1) earned the victory in relief. Palladino (1-1) took the loss.
Three players had two hits apiece for the Hickory Crawdads. That included Ibanez who scored a run and had two doubles. Garia also two hits, one of which was a home run. Sanchez was 2-5, with a run, 2-RBI and a homerun.
Gittens was 2-4 with a run and a double for the Charleston RiverDogs. Spencer was also 2-4. He scored a run and drove in another. Kendall Coleman had two hits as well, one of which was a double.
These two teams continue their series tomorrow. Brett Martin (1-1, 5.57) will go for the Crawdads. Yefrey Ramirez (0-0, 0.90) takes to the hill for the RiverDogs. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier