Vizcaino fans eight in seven strong innings
By: Riverdogs Media
HICKORY, N.C. – The saying goes, “You never know what you’re going to see when you come to the ballpark.” That was especially true in Saturday night’s wild affair that ended in a 4-3 walk-off win for the Hickory Crawdads over the Charleston RiverDogs at L.P. Frans Stadium.
For the second night in a row, Charleston (19-16) found itself locked in a pitchers’ duel, as Alexander Vizcaino (2-2, 3.34) and Crawdads (23-11) starter Tyree Thompson (0-0, 4.50) matched each other pitch for pitch through the first four innings.
Thompson, making his first start of the season after being called up from Extended Spring Training, started the night retiring the RiverDogs in order in the top of the first, including a strikeout of right fielder Josh Stowers.
Vizcaino mirrored him in the home half, also fanning one in a perfect first inning.
The contest remained scoreless until the bottom of the second inning, when Hickory left fielder Pedro Gonzalez lined a one-out single back up the middle to Brandon Lockridge in center for the first Crawdads hit of the game. Jose Almonte then lined out to right field, but it was Miguel Aparicio who came through with a two-out knock to left to advance Gonzalez to third with two away.
With second baseman Tyler Depreta-Johnson at the plate, Almonte took off for second on the offering from Vizcaino. As he was running, Gonzalez broke for home on the throw down to second base by Eduardo Navas, and by that time the return throw home was too late. The Crawdads took an early 1-0 lead on a perfectly-executed double-steal.
The lead didn’t last, though. Charleston DH Frederick Cuevas hit a leadoff double in the top of the third inning, but was picked off moments later during Navas’ at-bat. After Navas was called out on strikes, shortstop Eduardo Torrealba hit the second two-bagger of the frame for the Dogs down the left field line, and Brandon Lockridge launched the second pitch he saw over the left-center field wall for a towering two-run shot, his third homer of the season, to give Charleston a 2-1 lead.
The Dogs were able to hold the slim one-run lead through the next six innings, thanks to masterful work from Vizcaino. He shrugged off the double-steal and went on to complete 7 strong innings for the second time this season, allowing just the one run on two hits and a walk. The eight punchouts were his second-highest total of the season, and he at one point had set down 12 straight Crawdads. Aaron McGarity took over in the eighth inning and worked a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Aparicio in the process.
Things got dicey in the bottom of the ninth, with McGarity out for his second inning of work trying to nail down a 2-1 win for the Dogs. A leadoff triple by catcher Matt Whatley followed by a walk to Jonathan Ornelas had the Crawdads threatening, their first real scoring chance since the double-steal. McGarity got a big first out by whiffing first baseman Curtis Terry, and then lost DH Melvin Novoa, walking him on five pitches to load the bases for Gonzalez. He struck out swinging, but the pitch was wild from McGarity, which allowed Whatley to score from third to tie the game at 2.
The frame was McGarity’s last, as Jefry Valdez came on in the 10th to make his first appearance with the RiverDogs after being reassigned from High-A Tampa. Despite the extra-innings rule in Minor League Baseball that requires a runner to be placed at second base at the beginning of each extra inning, Valdez kept his cool and worked scoreless 10th and 11th innings.
Unfortunately for Charleston, so did Scott Engler, the fourth reliever utilized by Hickory manager Matt Hagen.
Fast-forward to the 12th inning, and the RiverDogs were finally able to scratch another run across against the Hickory second baseman Depreta-Johnson, who was called upon to preserve the Crawdads bullpen. A sac fly off the bat of Torrealba after Navas moved Cuevas to third on a sac bunt did the trick, and Charleston again needed just three more outs.
Valdez hit Terry to lead off the bottom half of the inning, and with Ornelas already standing on second base when the inning began, two long flyouts by Sherten Apostel and Pedro Gonzalez were all the Crawdads needed to tie the game once more.
The Dogs were unable to put the ball in play against Depreta-Johnson in the 13th inning, as Wilkerman Garcia and Stowers both went down on strikes, and Canaan Smith popped out to Apostel, who had taken over at third base, in foul territory for the final out.
The Crawdads walked it off in the bottom of the 13th inning, utilizing two well-placed bunts to move Tanner Gardner, who entered the game in the 9th inning to replace Jose Almonte, to third and subsequently to home plate to put this one to bed with a 4-3 final score after a 13-minute rain delay added to the three hour and 31-minute contest’s runtime.
The RiverDogs will look to bounce back in an early 3 p.m. start Sunday afternoon, sending No. 14 overall prospect (according to MLB.com) Luis Medina (0-2, 8.20) to the bump. Medina is coming off a solid 4.2 inning effort, allowing two runs on two hits to the Greenville Drive on May 5. Opposing Medina will be Tim Brennan (2-1, 2.51), coming off a fantastic outing in which he held the Kannapolis Intimidators to just one unearned run over seven innings, striking out seven.
Catch the game on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area and online streaming on the TuneIn Radio app. Fans can “Make Fun” with the RiverDogs all season long down at The Joe. Single-game tickets, including options to the Riley Park Club, are available at riverdogs.com/tickets or by contacting the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS). A full schedule and list of game times for the 2019 season is available at riverdogs.com.