HICKORY, N.C. - Dustin Fowler hit his first professional home run for Charleston, but the Hickory Crawdads rallied to defeat the RiverDogs, 9-4, on Thursday evening at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League baseball.
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 (23-22) up 1-0.
The Crawdads (22-23) 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.
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 popout 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 was able to score one run in the ninth.
Ryne Slack (3-1), who followed Tyler Smith with three scoreless innings of relief, was credited with the win. Gallegos took the loss to fall to 1-4.
Game 2 of this four-game road series will start at 7 p.m. as RiverDogs RHP Brady Lail (6-1, 3.30 ERA) squares off against Crawdads RHP Cole Wiper (2-5, 3.52). The RiverDogs follow this road stretch with an eight-game homestand at Riley Park. Re-Opening Night is on tap for a May 27 doubleheader with the Greenville Drive at 6:05 p.m., while Bark for Your Brew on June 1 at 3 p.m. precedes the homestand finale against the Asheville Tourists at 5:05 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away worldwide on www.riverdogs.com and locally on WTMA 1250-AM, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.