The first two games of the Hickory-Greensboro series couldn’t have been more starkly contrasted. Tuesday’s tilt featured homers from Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson and 14 total runs. Wednesday saw Chipper Smith and a pair of relievers hold the powerful Crawdads to one hit in a crisp 3-0 win.
On Thursday evening, the teams combined both elements—massive power and outstanding pitching—into the most entertaining affair of the week. This game, a 4-3 loss to close Greensboro’s home slate, was highlighted by home runs from Gallo, Hickory catcher Jorge Alfaro, Greensboro second baseman Avery Romero (third round, 2012) and outfielder Austin Dean (fourth round, 2012).
As for the pitching, starter Dejai Oliver whiffed a dozen over seven innings, a career high. In fact, Oliver’s evening marked the second consecutive game in which a Greensboro starter had established a career best in punchouts. Over the two-game stretch, Crawdads hitters fanned 30 times and walked twice.
Windmill tendencies aside, the Hickory club is easily the most fun to watch in the minors. For proof, check the two longballs below. Gallo gets jammed hard and still lofts the ball 360-plus feet out to right field. As for Alfaro, his homer was just a run of the mill opposite-field laser to left-center. No big deal.