A three-run home run by Abiatal Avelino led the Charleston RiverDogs to a 5-2 victory against the Hickory Crawdads on Monday night in front of 3,397 fans at Riley Park in South Atlantic League baseball.
The home run was Avelino's first of the season for the RiverDogs (26-25 second half, 59-62 overall) and just the second of his professional career.
The Crawdads slipped to 29-22 and 70-50 overall in the opener of a three-game series.
Hickory was able to grab a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Michael De Leon led off with a single. Two batters later, Ryan Cordell moved De Leon to second base on a groundout. After former Citadel standout Joe Jackson drew a walk, Ronald Guzman lined a single that scored De Leon for the game's first run.
In the bottom of the second, Yeicok Calderon's one-out single and Gosuke Katoh's one-out walk set up Avelino, who drove a go-ahead home run to left-center field. The only other home run in his career occurred on July 9, 2012, with the Dominican Summer League Yankees.
Charleston increased its lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning. Katoh reached on a one-out single and advanced to second base during a single by Avelino. Following a flyout, Tyler Wade recorded a single of his own to score Katoh.
The Crawdads cut the deficit to 4-2 with back-to-back doubles in the top of the fifth. Cordell extended the frame on a two-out double before Jackson drove him in on another double.
During the bottom of the fifth, the RiverDogs reclaimed a three-run advantage. Dustin Fowler opened the inning with a double. Fowler stayed at second base through a pair of outs until Calderon singled to drive in Fowler for a 5-2 Charleston lead.
Chaz Hebert (2-3) earned a win in relief for the RiverDogs. The left-hander allowed just one run in 41/3 innings. Charleston's Stefan Lopez converted his fourth save. He came in during the ninth inning to face Jackson, the potential tying run, and struck him out to end the game.
Crawdads starting pitcher Tyler Smith (6-4) was tagged with the loss.
Ethan Miller received a flat-screen television from Carolina One, which is giving away a TV to a lucky fan for every 50 runs that the RiverDogs score at home this season. The RiverDogs presented a $20,000 check to the Medical University of South Carolina's Storm Eye Institute during Monday's game. Catholic Night featured group outings from local Catholic churches and a ceremonial first pitch from Father H. Gregory West.
Game 2 of this series will be at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. Charleston RHP Luis Niebla (1-1, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Hickory RHP David Ledbetter (5-5, 6.15). Harris Teeter 2-for-$20 Date Night Tuesday includes a food drive to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank as well as a special ballpark offer for couples who present a VIC Card at the box office. It is also Law Enforcement Night that features appearances from longtime Major League second baseman and South Carolina native Orlando Hudson and McGruff the Crime Dog. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-3647 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 on www.riverdogs.com and locally on WTMA 1250-AM.