HICKORY, N.C. – After two straight nights of comeback wins in the eighth inning, the RiverDogs couldn’t capitalize on a litany of chances late Sunday evening as they dropped a 2-1 series finale to come up short of a four-game series sweep of the Crawdads at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Harold Cortijo (L, 4-3) and Aaron McGarity combined to hold Hickory (69-45, 28-20) to just two total hits in a losing effort. Despite battling at times with his command, Cortijo gave the RiverDogs (61-58, 24-25) five solid innings, working around four walks to allow just the pair of runs.
In the second, center fielder Miguel Aparicio tallied a leadoff double and scampered up to third on a wild pitch before scoring on an errant pickoff throw by Cortijo to make it 1-0 Crawdads.
After failing to score with the bases loaded and just one out, the RiverDogs found themselves in the same position just an inning later in the fourth after a pair of walks issued by Tyree Thompson (W, 5-7) and a ground ball single by second baseman Eduardo Torrealba. Center fielder Brandon Lockridge barreled one up to left field that Ryan Anderson ran down to tie the game on a sac fly. In the next at-bat, Oswald Peraza drove the second pitch he saw to deep left-center but Aparicio ran it down for an impressive over-the-shoulder catch that likely saved a pair of runs to end the inning. Hickory retook the lead in the bottom of the inning after Aparicio then reached on a leadoff free pass and later scored on Pedro Gonzalez’s sac fly.
The Holy City’s next best chance didn’t come until the ninth when catcher Eduardo Navas grounded one back up the box to cap his first three-hit performance of the year, followed by a flair single to center from Torrealba to put two on with one out. Lockridge would take a questionable strike three down in the zone before Peraza put a 3-2 pitch into play on a check swing back to the mound to end the contest. Nick Snyder danced around the late trouble to finish off his sixth save.
Reliever Aaron McGarity returned to the mound with the RiverDogs for the first time since June 20, also an outing in Hickory, and kept the RiverDogs in the game with three innings of relief while striking out six of 10 batters faced after a dominant stretch of allowing just two runs in 21 2/3 innings after a reassignment to Staten Island.
With another solid outing, Cortijo has now gone at least five innings and allowed no more than two runs in nine of 11 starts with Charleston.