Red Hawks relish experience in exhibition with 'Dads

Red Hawks relish experience in exhibition with 'Dads

HICKORY, N.C. — Catawba Valley Community College baseball players received the experience of a lifetime on Monday night during the Red Hawks' exhibition against the Class-A Hickory Crawdads at the newly renovated L.P. Frans Stadium.

In front of a crowd of 1,300 fans, the Red Hawks fell 12-2 to the Crawdads in the first-ever game between the two clubs.

"What an unbelievable experience opportunity with the Crawdads," said CVCC head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle. "It was awesome. For our guys to get out here and play in front of 1,300 people, this is what the (NJCAA D-II) World Series looks like in Enid, Oklahoma. After not being in an environment like this in a couple of years, it was nice to kind of feel that again."

Despite facing a team of professional athletes and highly touted draft picks, Catawba Valley showed impressive poise and grit early in Monday's exhibition.

Red Hawks starting pitcher Matthew Dailey struck out four of the first seven Crawdad batters he saw in Monday's exhibition.

Dailey would be aided by some early offense for CVCC in the form of back-to-back doubles by left fielder David Graves and first baseman Kyran Russ in the top of the second inning. Russ' double scored both Graves and Graham Mitchell to give CVCC a 2-0 lead.

"We had success early," Rozzelle said. "It wasn't like we came out here and got our teeth kicked in from the first pitch on. We came out and put two runs up with a couple of big hits and a couple of big doubles. Dailey struck out six. He was out here doing a good job, so there were a bunch of positives going forward."

The Crawdads quickly tied the game in the bottom of the second on a two-out, two-run triple by Yonny Hernandez, and Hickory would go on to score in all, but the first inning in the contest.

Crawdads pitchers were also able to keep the Red Hawk bats silent following the scoring surge in the second inning.

"I can safely say that we are going to play good teams, but we are not going to play another team that looks like that the rest of the way," Rozzelle said of the Crawdads. "I loved everything about how we played. Our guys had fun. That was a big challenge for us tonight. Regardless of score, situation or outcome, we want to be competitive for sure. This is about fun, experience and learning, and our guys did that. I'm as happy as can be."

The CVCC baseball team returns to action on Thursday with a road non-conference doubleheader with USC Lancaster. First pitch in Lancaster, S.C. is slated for 1 p.m.