Fowler homers, but Crawdads take opener
HICKORY, NC (DOGS) - The Charleston RiverDogs held an early 3-1 lead with help from Dustin Fowler's first professional home run, but the Hickory Crawdads rallied for a 9-4 victory on Thursday evening at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League action. With a loss to open a four-game road series, the RiverDogs now have a record of 23-22. The Crawdads improve to 22-23 through the win. Hickory's Tyler Smith and Charleston's Caleb Smith each recorded 1-2-3 first innings before the RiverDogs got on the scoreboard in the second. Brandon Thomas had the bases loaded with one out and hit into a force out that scored Mike Ford from third base, putting the RiverDogs up 1-0. The Crawdads quickly tied the contest at 1-1 in their half of the second inning. After Caleb Smith retired the first five batters that he faced to start his outing, Ronald Guzman evened the score by hitting his first home run of the season, a solo blast to left field. A near-home run by Aaron Judge in the third was good enough to give Charleston a 2-1 lead. Michael O'Neill reached on a one-out walk and scored from first base when Judge doubled off the top of the center field wall. While Judge's ball almost left the ballpark, Fowler managed to clear the fence with a drive in the fourth inning. Fowler put the RiverDogs ahead 3-1 with a solo home run to right field for the first round-tripper of his professional career. In the bottom of the fourth, Hickory came back to force a 3-3 tie. The inning opened with two outs but a Nomar Mazara double extended the frame. Travis Demeritte singled and Guzman walked to load the bases for Kellin Deglan, whose double to right field brought in Mazara and Demeritte for the game-tying runs. Hickory closed the top of the fifth by turning an inning-ending, bases-loaded double play before surging ahead with a home run. Charleston's Giovanny Gallegos induced a pop out before Evan Van Hoosier lifted a one-out solo shot, his third home run of the season, to give Hickory a 4-3 advantage. During the seventh inning, the Crawdads exploded with a rally that stretched the lead to 9-3. The bases were full with one out as Nick Vickerson singled to score Deglan. Ryan Cordell walked to move in Michael De Leon for another run. Mazara came through with a bases-clearing double and created a six-run advantage. Charleston did score in the ninth inning in its own comeback attempt, but the RiverDogs scored just one run before the Crawdads sealed up the victory. Ryne Slack, who followed Tyler Smith with three scoreless innings of relief, was credited with the win and is now 3-1. Gallegos took the loss to fall to 1-4.