By Ryan Decker
Charlotte picked up one win, taking Game 1 of the double header, 6-4, with a pair of multi-run innings, but it was Catawba Valley that got the last laugh.
Stars starting pitcher Trevor McKenna was dominant on the mound in Game 2, striking out 11 in a 12-0 mercy-rule-shortened victory for the Stars.
Catawba Valley took an early lead in Game 1, as each of the first three hitters reached base to start the bottom of the first.
Charlotte stranded four runners through the first two innings, but was able to break through in the third.
The Crushers hitters strung together five-consecutive singles to start the top of the third, with base knocks by Joseph Hill and Josh Hollifield, both driving in runs. After a pitching change was made, Max Barrios tallied the fifth hit of the inning, a single through the left side that drove in Hollifield and gave Charlotte a 3-1 lead.
Orlando Barrios’ club tacked on three more in the fourth, with the heart of the order once again doing damage.
Miles Marshall walked to get things started, and then scored three pitches later on a single to right field by Hill.
Marshall, Hill and Hollifield – the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 hitters in the lineup – were a combined 6-for-9 at the plate, scoring all six Crusher runs and collecting three of the six RBI.
Barrios was responsible for driving in the other three runs, including on the two-run single to shallow left-center field in the fourth, which gave Charlotte a 6-1 lead.
Crusher starter Jacob Barker was able to dance around trouble early on, but couldn’t escape a jam in the fifth.
Trey Martin tripled home a run, and was then driven in during the ensuing at bat, cutting the Catawba Valley deficit to 6-3.
Barker ultimately allowed three earned runs on ten hits during his 5.2 innings on the mound. Andrew Davis came into the game in relief, allowing just one hitter to reach base during his 1.1 innings of work, and earning the save.
Charlotte took Game 1 by a final score of 6-4.
Game 2 was a much different story.
Catawba Valley jumped on top with a seven-run first inning, sending 11 hitters to the plate.
Following a leadoff fly out by Andres Perez, each of the next eight hitters reached base, and seven of the eight came around to score. The seven runs were scored on six hits, including a three-run double to center field by Troy Davern, his first RBIs of the season.
The Stars added four more runs in the second to take an 11-0 lead. Once again, Catawba Valley batted around in the inning, this time sending 10 hitters to the plate.
Starting with Drew Swanson, the Nos. 3-6 hitters in the CV order all scored in both the first and second innings.
Landon Steiner produced the Stars’ final run, clubbing a no-doubt home run over the fence in left, his second long ball of the year.
Meanwhile, on the mound, McKenna was simply dominant.
Though only setting the Crushers down in order once, McKenna had arguably his best stuff of the year.
He collected strikeouts in each of the five innings, including multiple strikeouts in every inning but the second, and striking out the side in the fourth and fifth.
His 11 strikeouts set a career high.
Charlotte was able to collect just two hits off McKenna, while the Stars tallied 11 runs on eight hits against Crushers starter Myles Levy.
McKenna walked the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, but was able to end the game early by striking out the side.
Charlotte is back in action at home on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Charlotte Police Dept. in an exhibition game.
The Crushers resume regular season play Sunday against Carolina.