The Walnut Creek Crawdads have been called the “Cardiac Crawdads” because they have several comeback victories this summer, but Sunday’s come-from-behind win to sweep the Bay Area Admirals was about as dramatic as it gets.
Walnut Creek scored seven runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, but that’s not the end of the story. The Crawdads scored another four runs in the eighth inning to take the lead, which was enough run support as they would go on to defeat the Admirals 12-10 to sweep their first CCL series of the season.
Bay Area relief pitcher Dom Brasseco loaded the bases with one out when he was taken out in the seventh inning, but his teammate Colton Trudeau could not clean up Brasseco’s mess. Trudeau allowed four straight Crawdads to get on base without recording, allowing the inherited runners to score and then some.
Walnut Creek third baseman Griffin Harrison was very involved in the seventh, recording both of his hits in the frame to finish with two doubles and a run scored. The third baseman recorded eight hits in his first 14 games with the Crawdads, but he has five hits in his last two games, going 5-9 against the Admirals in the series. Harrison struggled to start the season, but he has learned from that and has made adjustments to fix those issues.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well,” Harrison said. “I’ve been widening out my stance, which has helped me get to the offspeed which is what I have struggled with early on.”
This was the first game the Crawdads played since middle infielder Jon Jon Gazdar left for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Gazdar hit .438 in his eight games with the Crawdads and provided smooth defense at both second base and shortstop. Losing the middle infielder is unfortunate for the Crawdads, but the silver lining is that it provides more opportunities for other players and Harrison has made himself a potential candidate to replace Gazdar with his production in this series against the Admirals.
“He [Gazdar] is a great ballplayer,” Harrison said. “He’s going to the Cape [Cod Baseball League], which is awesome for him; but, that does open up another infield spot for me to play more consistently.”
Harrison earned Player of the Game honors for his performance on Sunday, but there were five other Crawdads with multiple hits. Four of the top five hitters in the Walnut Creek lineup had multiple hits and that is part of the reason why the Crawdads were able to score four runs in the eighth to take the lead.
Bay Area’s bullpen struggled on Sunday, but it did not help that its defense committed two of the team’s three errors in the eighth inning, causing all four runs allowed by Bay Area relief pitcher Nolan Meredeth to be unearned. A combination of the late inning relievers allowing too much contact and poor defense wasted a pitching performance from the Admirals in which they only allowed one run through the first six innings. The lack of offense for the Crawdads was surprising considering that they scored 18 runs on Saturday, but the crooked numbers in the seventh and eighth innings avenged that rough start.
The Crawdads would not have been able to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth if it were not for the performance from Walnut Creek relief pitcher Owen Firestone in the top of the eighth. Firestone is a catcher by trade, but he has started pitching out of the bullpen this summer and he was the best pitcher for the Crawdads on Sunday. Firestone was the only pitcher to not allow multiple earned runs as he tossed a clean inning against the Admirals.
Walnut Creek starting pitcher Tyler Wood has been the consistent Sunday starter for the Crawdads, but it was only his second matchup against a CCL opponent and he struggled throwing strikes with four walks in 3 ⅔ innings. This was surprising considering that Wood was nearly perfect in his last outing against the Sacramento Heat on June 25. Walnut Creek relief pitcher Ryan DeLaney was able to clean up Wood’s bases-loaded mess in the fourth, which was a confidence booster considering DeLaney has not pitched in a week, but the fifth inning was not so kind to the reliever as he coughed up a couple earned runs in the frame.
The pitching struggled for both sides, but both offenses were able to be productive in different ways. The Crawdads utilized small ball, accumulating 15 hits, none of which were home runs. Conversely, the Admirals drew eight walks and hit two home runs, courtesy of right fielder Luke Rossi and first baseman Ryan Pierce.
Walnut Creek has a matchup with the Healdsburg Prune Packers and a couple non league games scheduled for this week. The Crawdads have won four games in the last five days and there is one aspect that has been successful for Walnut Creek that they are going to need to stay strong to win these matches.
“I think pitching,” Harrison said. “Our pitching has been dominant lately. We’ve thrown a lot of strikes. If we continue to throw strikes, I think our bats are good enough to hit any team in summer ball. Pitching is the main thing I believe.”