Leftfielder Chris Grayson belted a three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to propel the Hickory Crawdads to the 4-3 road win against the Greenville Drive on Monday night.
The 'Dads (4-1) faced Boston left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller, who made a rehab start, in the top of the first inning, before breaking through with the game's first run against right-handed pitcher Madison Younginer in the top of the fourth.
Shortstop Luis Sardinas led off with a single and quickly swiped second base. Following a walk, second baseman Rougned Odor drove an RBI single up the middle to score Sardinas and make it 1-0 Hickory lead.
Hickory pitcher Will Lamb kept the lead intact through his four scoreless frames, but the Drive (1-4) tied it in the bottom of the fifth against relief pitcher Greg Williams.
Second baseman Jose Garcia doubled to lead off the inning and took third base on a passed ball one out later. Center fielder Cody Koback skied a sacrifice fly to right field, enabling Garcia to score and tying the game at 1-1.
The Drive moved in front the very next frame. A one-out double by David Renfroe set up the rally. Williams responded by striking out Keury De La Cruz for the second out, but Matt Marquis placed an infield single up the middle that was compounded by a throwing error by Odor, allowing Renfroe to score for the 2-1 lead for the Drive.
Hickory slammed it's way back in front in the top of the eighth against Drive pitcher Hunter Cervenka.
With two down and no one on, center fielder Jordan Akins extended the frame with a base hit and moved to second on a single from Sardinas. On the next at-bat, Grayson launched a three-run home run over the right-center field wall, belting Hickory into the 4-2 advantage.
Greenville attempted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth against Hickory pitcher Nick Martinez. Blake Swihart tripled to start the inning and was driven in by a one-out RBI double from Renfroe, cutting the 'Dads lead to 4-3, but Martinez struck out the side, stranding Renfroe at second and ending the eighth.
Hickory sent relief pitcher Phil Klein to the hill for the bottom of the ninth. He quickly struck out the first two batters, and then induced a fly ball to right-center field that Grayson put away with a perfectly-timed diving catch, wrapping up the 4-3 Crawdads' victory.
Northern Division standings
Greensboro (Marlins) 4 1 .800 —
Hickory (Rangers) 4 1 .800 —
Delmarva (Orioles) 3 1 .750 0.5
Hagerstown (Nationals) 3 1 .750 0.5
Kannapolis (White Sox) 1 3 .250 2.5
Lakewood (Phillies) 1 4 .200 3
West Virginia (Pirates) 1 4 .200 3