This is the Kyle Crick the San Francisco Giants hoped to see after his first full year of professional baseball.
The 19-year-old Augusta GreenJackets starting pitcher lowered his ERA to a South Atlantic League-leading 2.34 with another gem Wednesday night in a 3-1 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws.
Crick’s usual mid-90s fastball wasn’t effective early, giving up a single and double to two of the first three batters he faced for a 1-0 Lakewood lead, but he switched to his changeup and allowed just one hit the rest of the way.
Such adjustments are why the Giants sent the 49th overall pick from last year’s draft to Augusta.
“His mechanics were a little bit off at first, but he didn’t lose his composure,” manager Lipso Nava said. “He kept us in the game.”
Crick (6-6) entered the season a year removed from high school with raw talent thanks to his overpowering fastball. He showed Wednesday night that he’s spent the summer developing more pitches.
“My control with the fastball wasn’t there, so I started throwing more changeups,” he said. “They were actually working for once, and that’s pretty much what saved me was my changeup. I can mix it now. I don’t have to just throw the fastball. Now I feel like I’ve got them guessing.”
Crick, who has allowed one earned run or fewer in nine of his past 10 starts, got the win after the Augusta bats continued their hot streak.
Kelby Tomlinson led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and Jeff Arnold and Carlos Willoughby followed with back-to-back singles to tie the game. Wes Hodges came through with a two-out, bases-loaded single later in the inning to score two more runs.
The three-run sixth marred an otherwise strong performance from Lakewood starter Gabrier Arias, who faced the minimum through five innings. Arias (4-7) gave up three runs on five hits and a walk for his first loss in six weeks.
Augusta’s bullpen preserved the two-run lead. DeMondre Arnold gave up consecutive two-out singles in the seventh but got out of the inning. Steven Neff stranded a runner at second in the eighth and Chris Marlowe picked up his first save with a perfect ninth.
The series sweep was Augusta’s third against a Northern Division team this season. The GreenJackets (26-25, 58-62) have won three in a row and four of their past five games and remained six games out of first place in the Southern Division.
Lakewood right fielder Kyle Dugan drove in the visiting team’s lone run with a first-inning double, then made back-to-back highlight catches in the bottom of the second that temporarily preserved the one-run lead.