Hickory and Lakewood were locked in a battle Wednesday during the first two innings of the playoff opener at L.P. Frans Stadium. Hickory starter Neil Ramirez held the Northern Division’s top team scoreless through two innings, but things quickly unraveled in the third.
“Momentum is a funny thing,” said Bill Richardson, Crawdads manager.
Two consecutive bad defensive plays got Lakewood rolling. The BlueClaws scored seven runs in the the third, fourth and fifth innings to cruise to a 7-0 win over Hickory. The BlueClaws lead the series 1-0 as it moves Friday to Lakewood, N.J., for Game 2, which starts at 7:05 p.m.
“As far as we’re concerned, the hurdle just got a little higher,” Richardson said.
The BlueClaws hammered their way through the fifth inning Wednesday scoring four runs on two home runs, including a three-run shot by Alan Schoenberger giving Lakewood a 6-0 lead. Lakewood’s Jonathan Singleton sealed the win with a solo home run to right field for a seven-run lead. Lakewood scored two runs in the third inning and one in the fourth on a solo home run by Sebastian Valle.
Hickory pitcher Neil Ramirez, who was the losing pitcher, was pulled after the four-run fifth inning. He surrendered seven runs on six hits with seven strikeouts.
Hickory’s offense struggled a lot Wednesday against Lakewood pitcher Trevor May, who pitched seven innings and allowed only six baserunners in his eighth win of the season. He struck out 13 batters and surrendered only four hits with one walk — the only walk of the game by either pitcher.