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 Post subject: Hickory Crawdads at Lake County Captains 7-8-08
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:45 pm 
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I was very enthusiastic as I entered the turnstyle. Brad Lincoln on the mound, beautiful ball park, over 4,000 in attendance (for $1 beer, hot dog, beverage night.)

I was three rows back on the third base side. Before the game started I saw Brad talking to someone by the rail (Crawdads' photographer I believe) so I hurried down the steps to wish him "good luck" once he started walking away. Brad said "thanks!" That was cool.. I just hope I didn't jinx him.

I just missed Hickory's batting practice. The Crawdads wore their black jersey tops, grey caps, and grey pants (actually Pirates road pants!) The yellow stripe on the pants don't go well with the jersey top. Ha!

As with his previous start Brad looked great for three innings. He retired the first eight batters, then gave up a single (catcher Andrew Walker threw out the speedy Lucas Montero, attempting to steal, for the final out.)

Meanwhile Captain's pitcher Kelvin De la Cruz was great. A tall thin Dominican pitcher, he looks a lot like Rafael Perez of the Indians. De la Cruz was dominant. Only one hard hit ball off him in five innings (a single by Matt Hague.) He retired eleven batters in a row at one point. He was throwing hard (no idea about his velocity) and striking guys out with his changeup. He finished with seven strikeouts, no walks, and lowered his 1.74 ERA I think. What a prospect!

Brad Lincoln looked like a different pitcher in the bottom of the 4th. The Captains got six (yes, 6!) consecutive singles before the 'Dads pulled off a double play. Hickory shortstop Greg Picart made a dandy backhand stop to his right (made a couple of nice plays) and flipped to Matt Cavagnaro who pivoted nicely at 2nd.

Brad throws two and four seamers, sinker, and curve. I don't know which pitch was failing him but the Captains had him figured out the second time around the batting order.

The 'Dads got three infield hits (nothing hit hard) to score a run in the 5th. Brad settled down to pitch a 1-2-3 5th inning, but ran into trouble against in the bottom of the 6th. Lake County got three more singles, one on a fly ball that CF Austin Mc Clune misjudged. Manager Gary Green pulled Brad out after 5 1/3 innings with a runner on base. He gave up seven runs on ten hits (all singles) walked none, struck out three.

Lefty Wanell Macia (drafted by the Pirates in 2001!!) came in and gave up a homerun on his first pitch. A no doubter that 'Dads left fielder Albert Laboy didn't even bother to turn around to watch. Macia reminds me of Salomon Torres, same height.

Lake County reliever John Gaub pitched two scoreless innings. He threw some nasty sliders.. struck out a couple of guys on wicked sliders.

Michael Felix pitched two innings for Hickory, gave up no hits but walked two and had some help in the field. Right fielder Erik Huber made a nifty sliding catch to save a run on a possible extra base hit. Huber went 0-for-4 but looks imposing at the late

In the top of the 8th we started hitting the ball at least. Picart and Laboy had singles off a less impressive reliever. Matt Hague socked an rbi double to cut the score to 9-2 (final score.)
In the 9th our carcher Andrew Walker just missed a homerun by three feet.

Notes: Some guy behind me said we should all heckle Laboy because he laughed during the singing of the National Anthem. A man in the row ahead of me was wearing an Altoona Curves jacket. I never had a good opportunity to talk to him. Otherwise I saw only two other Pirates jersey tops o0ff in the distance (one little boy and a guy in a black Clemente jersey.)

CF Austin Mc Clune looked clueless at the plate (struck out three times) but he made a wonderful catch in center.. ran a very long distance to left. He also misjudged a fly ball during Lincoln's second troublesome inning which cost us a run. Mc Clune is very young looking. Most of the night he played very shallow in center.

Hague was most impressive at the plate. He struck out twice, once on three straight pitches, but he was the only batter who hit the ball hard more than once. He missed tagging a baserunner on the way to 1st (in the base path) an out that I thought he could've made.

Picart is a nice looking short stop. I'd love to see what kind of range he has. He handled everything his way with ease. If only he could hit. Jordy Mercer may get less playing time at short.

Danny Bomback was awful at 3rd base.. two errors, one simple drop of a fielded grounder, the other a horrendous throw to first. He did nothing at the plate. Hickory struck out twelve times in this game!

Andrew Walker has a quick release.. almost threw out a second base stealer. I listened to the Captains radio broadcast (I saw Mike Janela doing the Hickory broadcast.) The Captains announcer said Walker is the best catcher in the Pirates system. The Pirates are saying Walker will most likely be the starting catcher in a couple of years.

I wish the Pirates had such aggressive running in our farm system. Lake County has two guys with lots of stolen bases (the aforementioned Montero with 37 steals and their CF.)

The over all atmosphere was probably typical of minor league baseball. Silly mascot named Skipper (looks like the Indians' Slider) and lots of racing and eating contests. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't so disgusted about the Pirates.. thinking of the lousy drafts we had under Littlefield. I am encouraged though when I see Matt Hague swing the bat. The new regime may actually know how to select good ball players.


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