Holy moly, what a ball game. Before the largest playoff crowd in BlueClaws history, Lakewood and Hickory swapped runs in the top of the first, then shut each other out through the next 8 innings. Finally, Hickory poked through with a run in the 10th. Despite getting two runners on in the bottom of the 10th, the BlueClaws could not score, and we’re back for Game 3 on the shoulders of Jonathan Pettibone tomorrow night at 7:05.
Brody Colvin got into trouble right off the bat by walking the leadoff hitter in the top of the 1st. A passed ball by Sebastian Valle, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI groundout allowed Hickory to score a run without a hit. In the bottom of the first, Keoni Ruth and Jonathan Singleton got one-out singles. A wild pitch moved them to second and third. After Valle walked, Leandro Castro hit into a fielder’s choice that tied the game at 1.
After that, both pitchers settled in. Colvin allowed two runners in the second and fourth, but no damage was done. He ended with 5 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 R, and 0 ER. Six groundouts and 4 fly outs. Hickory starter Robert Erlin was even better at 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R (earned), 8 K, and 2 BB. All told, the ‘Claws struck out at an astonishing pace–at one point, Hickory pitchers recorded 12 straight outs via Ks, and 16 of the first 24 outs for Lakewood were Ks. (In all fairness, Erlin led the SAL in ERA at 2.12, WHIP at 0.92, and was second in opponents average at .213. While unranked by BA, he did get a favorable writeup in John Sickels’ Prospect Book.)
Julio Rodriguez followed Colvin and had what has become a typical J-Rod outing: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB. The ‘Claws had a shot in the bottom of the 7th after a leadoff walk by Castro and a double by Jeremy Barnes. However, Hickory reliever Miguel de los Santos then struck out Stephen Batts, Anthony Hewitt, and Alan Schoenberger to end the threat.
Josh Zeid took over in the 9th for Lakewood, but after a walk and a hit batter, Mike McGuire came on and got two punch-outs and a fly out to retire the side. In the bottom of the 9th, Castro drew another walk, Barnes bunted him along. Batts hit a fly ball that got Castro to third. After Brian Gump walked and moved to second on defensive indifference, Schoenberger was poised for yet another walkoff hit. Alas, Joe Ortiz struck him out to end the inning.
McGuire went back out for the top of the 10th. Leadoff hitter Travis Adair hit a bomb that hugged the line, only to drift foul at the last minute. He then grounded back to McGuire. After the next hitter doubled, Jared Prince hit a bouncer up the middle that Keoni Ruth made a great play on to save a run, but left Crawdad runners on 1st and 3rd. The next hitter hit a bouncer out to Schoenberger at short, who fed to Ruth who couldn’t make the smooth pivot and allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Bottom of the 10th, Jiwan James struck out for the fourth time in the game to lead off. Ruth than got a hustle double, and Singleton walked to set the stage for Sebastian Valle. Valle ended the game by bouncing into a 5-3 double play.
All told, the BlueClaws struck out 18 times and were held to four hits, but had plenty of chances to win this game (they had 8 walks as well). A simply superb season comes down to tomorrow night with Jonathan Pettibone on the mound against RHP Jake Brigham.