'Dads Brinson returns from DL, homers twice in win
Hickory Crawdads center fielder Lewis Brinson made the most of his return from the disabled list on Tuesday.
Brinson homered twice, including a walkoff blast in the bottom of the ninth, to give the ‘Dads a 10-9 victory against the Greensboro Grasshoppers at L.P. Frans Stadium.
“First of all, it felt good to be back," said Brinson, who went 3-for-4 in Tuesday's contest. "Most guys come off of the DL and try to do too much. I’ve been trying to do so much all season and that hasn’t worked. Tonight, I just tried to be me and be the great athlete that God has blessed me to be. I just went out there, found my pitch and hit it.”
It was the second-straight walkoff win for the ‘Dads, who won 4-3 on Monday on Jordan Akins’ home run in the ninth inning.
There was no shortage of offense in Tuesday's game. Both teams tallied a combined 26 hits, including 12 by Hickory and 14 by Greensboro.
The 'Hoppers took a three-run advantage early in the contest. Catcher Tony Caldwell hit a two-run home run in the top of first inning, while shortstop Anthony Gomez also scored for Greensboro in the third inning on a passed ball.
Hickory answered with four runs in the bottom of the third.
Greensboro starter Matt Milroy walked 'Dads third baseman Ryan Rua with the bases loaded to plate the first of those runs.
With the bases still loaded with two outs, Hickory right fielder Nomar Mazara doubled to score all three base runners and put the 'Dads ahead 4-3.
After singling in his second at-bat of the game, Brinson made it a 5-3 advantage for Hickory when he scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth.
Greensboro jostled to take back the lead in the top of the fifth.
'Hoppers third baseman Colin Moran, the No. 6 overall pick in June's MLB Draft, doubled in the inning to tie the contest and later scored on an error by Hickory catcher Jorge Alfaro.
Crawdads starting pitcher Andrew Faulkner lasted 4.1 innings in Tuesday's contest, allowing eight hits, six runs (five earned), two walks and seven strikeouts.
Brinson's second hit and first home run — a solo blast in the bottom of the sixth — would once again tie the contest at 6-6.
The 'Hoppers wouldn't be denied, surging back ahead in the game with a three-run seventh inning. Left fielder Cameron Flynn's double cleared the bases to push Greensboro ahead, 9-6.
Trailing with two innings left, Brinson became the hero late in the game for Hickory.
The 2012 first round pick by the Texas Rangers scored in the bottom of the seventh on a groundout by Jordan Akins, but his biggest impact was yet to come.
The stage was set for Brinson to cap Hickory's comeback after Mazara's sac fly in the bottom of the ninth scored Alfaro.
With third baseman Rua on first base, Brinson took a 2-2 count off of Greensboro relief pitcher Jheyson Manzueta deep over the wall in left field to win the game in dramatic fashion.
Hickory's dugout emptied, and Brinson was mobbed at home plate by his teammates.
"I was just looking for a fastball and hitting it hard," Brinson said on the approach for his final at bat. "(Manzueta) did have good breaking stuff, but I was going to sit on that until I got two strikes. Lucky for me, he gave me a fastball in my 'happy zone.' I put a good swing on it."
Crawdads relief pitcher Jose Valdespina (4-1) picked up the victory on the mound, while Manzueta (3-4) took the loss in his second blow save attempt.
Hickory and Greensboro play the third and final game of the series today at 7 p.m. at L.P. Frans Stadium.