HICKORY, N.C. - Mike Ford blasted a team-record four homers for the Charleston RiverDogs, which lost an early 7-0 lead to the Hickory Crawdads before rallying to claim a 17-10 victory on Sunday at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League baseball.
According to SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, Ford's four homer game is the most ever by a Charleston professional baseball player.
Charleston (25-23) split this four-game series and also went 4-4 over its season-long eight-game road stretch. Seven home runs were hit in Sunday's contest, including five by the RiverDogs.
Charleston scored the first seven runs over the opening four innings of play. Brandon Thomas snapped an 0-for-19 spell with a run-scoring single in the second that plated John Murphy. The RiverDogs scored four runs in the third, including Kale Sumner's two-run triple. Ford's first home run came in the fourth, a two-run dinger that gave Charleston a 7-0 lead.
Hickory (23-25) tied the game at 7 in its half of the fourth.
Despite the game-tying rally, the RiverDogs had back-to-back answers in the sixth. Aaron Judge hit his first pitch for a go-ahead solo home run and his fifth professional blast. Two pitches later, Ford collected his second home run of the game to put Charleston up 9-7.
Ford homered near the end of a seven-run seventh inning that produced a 16-7 lead.
Murphy opened the scoring, coming in after a Gosuke Katoh sacrifice bunt that was coupled with an error. Thomas added a single to bring in Sumner. Dustin Fowler hit a two-run triple before scoring on Judge's sacrifice fly. Ford's third home run was a solo shot to create an eight-run lead. Murphy finished the scoring with a two-out double that brought in Miguel Andujar.
The Crawdads only scored two runs in the eighth inning before Ford made history in the ninth. Ford led off the final inning with his record-setting fourth home run to put the RiverDogs ahead 17-9. It was also Ford's team-best eighth round-tripper of the season. Hickory's Ryan Cordell answered with his own solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to cap the scoring in a wild contest.
SABR's research on four home run performances or better indicates that Ford is the first player representing Charleston to accomplish this feat. The last South Atlantic League player with a four-homer game was Tony Mongeluzzo, who did it on April 20, 2002, for the Savannah Sand Gnats in a game against the Asheville Tourists.
Charleston's Angel Rincon earned the win, moving to 1-0 following 22/3 shutout innings. Hickory's Paul Schwendel gave up four runs, all on RiverDogs home runs, and is 0-1 with the loss.
The RiverDogs host an eight-game homestand at Riley Park, starting on Monday at 7 p.m. against the Greenville Drive. Charleston LHP Ian Clarkin (1-1, 3.66 ERA) will open against Greenville RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (4-2, 4.17 ERA). Coors and Z93 Jamz present Dollar Dogs and Beers Night, with $1 hot dogs and $1 drafts in the Ashley View Pub. The RiverDogs and the Drive also continue The Battle of the Palmetto State Rivalry Series, presented by Spinx, which also features a Re-Opening Night doubleheader at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday. 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 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.