RiverDogs blast Blue Claws

In an offensive onslaught that featured a season-high 18 hits and home runs by Mike Ford and Michael O'Neill, the Charleston RiverDogs defeated the Lakewood BlueClaws, 9-3, Wednesday at FirstEnergy Park in South Atlantic League action.

Charleston is back above .500 with a 10-9 record, while the BlueClaws fell to 5-13. Charleston also won the three-game series, the only scheduled meeting of the season, by a margin of 2-1.

The RiverDogs jumped on the BlueClaws with a three-run first-inning. Two singles and a throwing error put runners in scoring position for Ford, who plated Tyler Wade on a groundout for a 1-0 lead. O'Neill brought in Aaron Judge with a single and scored after a stolen base and a Miguel Andujar double to bring the advantage to 3-0.

Lakewood mustered only one run in the bottom of the first to counter Charleston's quick start. J. P. Crawford walked and was driven to third base with a single from Carlos Tocci. A wild pitch scored Crawford, bringing the BlueClaws within 3-1.

Home runs helped the RiverDogs push the lead to 8-1. After Judge opened the third inning with a walk, Ford lifted his third blast of the season for a four-run lead. O'Neill followed an RBI single by Judge with a two-run homer in the fourth. O'Neill is second in the SAL with a team-high five home runs after going deep in back-to-back games for the first time in his professional career.

The BlueClaws could only answer with more one-run spurts. In the sixth inning, Samuel Hiciano tripled and came in after Tocci collected a single. Andrew Benak came in for the RiverDogs and induced a foul pop out before an inning-ending double play from John Murphy to Wade to Ford.

Lakewood trimmed the gap to 8-3 in the seventh on a solo home run by Andrew Pullin. Wade, Murphy and Ford once again combined for a key double play that kept the BlueClaws from getting closer.

In the ninth inning, the RiverDogs put the finishing touches on a series-clinching victory. Kale Sumner doubled to begin the frame and reached third base after a groundout by Mikeson Oliberto. Sumner scored on a wild pitch, increasing Charleston's lead to 9-3 for the game's closing margin.

Charleston's Brady Lail earned the win and moved to 2-1 after five innings of work. Lakewood's Alejandro Arteaga allowed eight RiverDogs runs, falling to 1-3 this season.

Charleston continues its road trip with a four-game series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. The series begins at 7:05 p.m. Thurday with RiverDogs LHP Caleb Smith (1-1, 1.26 ERA) facing Shorebirds LHP Mitch Horacek (0-1, 2.89 ERA).