Bombers Swept in South Atlantic Championship

The Bombers' game against Hickory, and season, was over before Capital City starter Greg Ramirez recorded his first out Thursday as the Crawdads touched him for a four-run first inning in Hickory's 9-2 blasting of the Bombers for the three-game sweep in the South Atlantic Championship.

After a scoreless top of the first inning for the Bombers' offense, Greg Ramirez immediately served up a lead-off double to Hickory centerfielder Nyjer Morgan and followed that up by plunking Mike Cockrell with a pitch. With runners on first and second, Bobby Kingsbury jumped all over a Ramirez offering for a three-run home run before Ramirez could record his first out. A solo home run to left field by Craig Stansberry gave the Crawdads an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, a lead that Hickory would never relinquish Thursday evening in North Carolina.

Morgan and Cockrell were the culprits again in the bottom of the second inning when Morgan laced a two-out single off Ramirez and got himself into scoring position immediately by stealing second base off Ramirez and Yunir Garcia. Cockrell drove home the Crawdads' fifth run of the game, driving in Morgan to give Hickory a 5-0 lead.

Craig Stansberry drove home his second run of game in the bottom of the third inning when his RBI single off Ramirez drove home Jon Benick.

The Bombers had no answer for Hickory starting pitcher Wardell Starling through the first five innings of the game but did manage to plate two runs in the top of the sixth inning to get back into the game. Cap City loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on the strength of three straight singles by Wilson Batista, Jamar Hill, and Ryan Harvey before Bombers' 2B Blake Whealy doubled to left center to give the Bombers their first two runs. But Starling fought back, leaving runners on second and third and ending the Bombers rally by striking out both Andrew Wilson and Shawn Bowman.

Still only down 6-2, Hickory put the game out of reach in the bottom of the 8th inning when the scored three more runs. Carlos Muniz gave up a lead-off walk to Anthony Bocchino and was taken out of the game in favor of LHP Brian Walker after getting two outs. Facing his first batter, Walker gave up an RBI single to Nyjer Morgan and then immediately served up a two-run home run to Crawdads' 3B Mike Cockrell for Hickory's final two runs in the game.

The Bombers' fantastic season came to a screeching halt in the three-game sweep in the South Atlantic Championship at the hands of the Hickory Crawdads. The reason? Hickory hit a blistering .327 off Capital City pitching in the series and averaged 8.3 runs per game in the sweep.

With the Bombers' season now over, the question remains: Will Capital City and the Mets continue their player developmental contract and relationship that they have had for over 20 years, or will both sides go in a different direction? There are only two spots remaining in the South Atlantic League and four Major League teams looking for homes for their low-A teams next season. Capital City and Hagerstown are the only two remaining SAL sites with the Mets, Red Sox, Devil Rays and Rangers needing homes. Two of these Major League teams will have to shift over to two of the remaining Midwest sites available.

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