(pictured, Matt West)
After winning the first two games of the series against Delmarva, Hickory managed to drop the last two to return to the .500 mark for what seems like the 15th time this season. Hickory has not been more than 3 games over .500 or 2 games below .500 in the 2009 season.
As opposed to Wednesday night's loss to the Shorebirds' Nathan Morneau, the offense really did not have much of a shot at Rick Zagone, the Orioles' 6th round pick in 2008 from the University of Missouri. Other than a minor control blip in the 5th inning, the 6'4" lefthander pretty well had things under control. He threw an OK fastball, but changed speeds enough to keep the Crawdads hitters off balance all night. Zagone gave up two hits, one was a high hopper that perhaps a 6'5" Zagone would've fielded with an outstretched glove.
Carlos Pimentel did himself proud, allowing just the unearned run in the 6th inning. His undoing-- his failure to field a dribbler by Joe Mahoney between the mound and first base. Mahoney eventually scored the only run. Pimentel threw 95 pitches in 6.2 innings and pretty well controlled the Shorebirds' offense. Tyler Tufts was outstanding, setting down all 7 batters he faced.
Have to give props to Shorebirds' shortstop Greg Miclat, Baltimore's 2008 5th round pick out of the University of Virginia. Very strong arm, can flat out track down a baseball. Made several plays in the hole at short, including a very impressive sliding stop of a ball deep in the hole, before firing a strike to retire Mike Bianucci in the 2nd inning. Miclat put on a defensive display throughout the series.
So now, its on the road to Hagerstown as the team bus left after the game Thursday. Still anyone's division, but with 30 games to play and 3.5 out in 5th place, its time to make a move or wait until the second half.
Clark Murphy was sent to extended spring on Thursday with Leury Garcia taking his spot on the roster. Garcia started at short on Thursday and looked quite smooth with the glove and displayed a strong arm.
Matt West managed to collect the hat trick on back-to-back nights as he struck out 6 times in 2 games. He looks lost as to where the strike zone is-- taking lots of pitches!