Crawdads Hand Hoppers First Defeat, 8-4
It was pretty simple for the Hoppers Saturday night – they were out-hit, out-pitched, out-defensed and out-run.
And that added up to an 8-4 win for Hickory in the third game of the season-opening series. The teams wrap it up Sunday with a 4 p.m. game at First National Bank Field.
Hickory starter Emerson Martinez checked the Hoppers on four hits and allowed just one unearned run in five innings. He and two relievers combined to strike out 12 Greensboro hitters.
On offense, the Crawdads cranked out 12 hits, including four by Yanio Perez and three by Ti’Quan Forbes, who also drove in three runs. Forbes homered for the third straight game and Preston Scott added two more homers.
Hickory has now hit eight homers in the series, all solo shots.
“I’m not in the least concerned,” said Hoppers manager Todd Pratt. “We’re a team that’s going to challenge hitters all year.”
Pitching coach Mark DiFelice said Hickory is a team of free swingers, which is the way the parent Texas Rangers want it.
“We saw how aggressive they are,” DiFelice said. “They can really barrel up some pitches. We’re an organization that throws fastballs in and we have to execute better. Some of our two-seam fastballs have been flat.”
Offensively, the Hoppers managed only seven hits. Six were singles and the other hit was a long three-run homer by catcher Jarrett Rindfleisch in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pratt said Rindfleisch had not seen live pitching since April 1. He was 0-for-3 before unloading his homer.
On defense, the Hoppers turned three double plays but made three errors that led to two unearned runs. They never got the running game going, while Hickory stole five bases.
NOTES: Dylan Lee, the only left-hander on the staff, will start Sunday’s game for the Hoppers … The weather was more conducive to baseball, starting at 64 degrees and ending at 58, with no wind. The first two games began in the 50s and ended in the 40s, with a hard wind each night. Temperatures will warm up each day during the remaining four days of the home stand.