Thomas' grand slam powers RiverDogs to sweep

In a game that was highlighted by high scoring and big home runs, Brandon Thomas' go-ahead grand slam in the seventh was the blast that carried the Charleston RiverDogs to a 13-9 win and a three-game sweep of the Hickory Crawdads on Wednesday in front of 2,091 fans at Joe Riley Park in South Atlantic League action.

The RiverDogs advanced to 28-25 in the second half and 61-62 overall. The Crawdads dropped to 29-24 and 70-52, respectively.

In the bottom of the first inning, Charleston opened the scoring with a big rally. Following Tyler Wade's triple, Miguel Andujar singled to bring Wade home for a 1-0 lead. Later in the frame, Yeicok Calderon launched a three-run homer to right field and put the RiverDogs in front, 4-0.

Charleston's 4-0 lead remained intact until Hickory exploded for six runs in the top of the fourth. Four straight batters reached to begin the frame, including a three-run blast by former Citadel Bulldog Joe Jackson. Evan Van Hoosier and Travis Demeritte each reached safely ahead of Jairo Beras, who crushed a three-run round tripper to cap the six-run fourth inning that provided the Crawdads with a 6-4 lead.

During the home half of the fourth, Charleston got two of those runs right back to tie the game. With two outs and the bases empty, Kale Sumner drew a walk. Sumner scored on a double to left by Gosuke Katoh. Thomas followed with a single that brought in Katoh to tie the game at 6-6.

Hickory's bats remained hot in the fifth and sixth innings as the Crawdads reclaimed the lead. Ronald Guzman brought in Jackson and Van Hoosier with a two-run single in the fifth for an 8-6 advantage. Ryan Cordell bounced into a force out that scored Janluis Castro to give the Crawdads a 9-6 cushion.

The RiverDogs scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to trim the deficit to 9-8. Michael O'Neill doubled to drive in Katoh. Two batters later, Andujar delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Thomas and brought Charleston within a run.

Thomas lifted the RiverDogs back in front with a grand slam in the seventh inning. With a 1-0 count, one out, and the bases loaded, Thomas blasted his second career grand slam to push Charleston to a 12-9 lead. He ended the game with five runs batted in, tying his career high from June 26, 2013, when he played for the short-season Single-A Staten Island Yankees.

Another run in the eighth inning provided Charleston with a 13-9 lead. Andujar reached second base on a leadoff single that was coupled with an error. Mike Ford grounded out to move him to third base before Jackson Valera's sacrifice fly scored Andujar.

Evan Rutckyj picked up the victory for Charleston and improved to 4-2. Felix Carvallo was tagged with the loss for Hickory and fell to 4-4.

As a part of Service Industry Day and Wednesday's special ticket offers, Connor Lock was hired by the RiverDogs to be a professional hot dog eater for the game. Lock was chosen out of a field of several worthy applicants to receive a special seat behind home plate, all the hot dogs he could eat, and he was paid for the privilege. Locke finished the afternoon with seven hot dogs eaten. He received a check for $23.50 for his hard work.

Charleston remains at home and will host a four-game series against the Rome Braves. The opener will be at 7:05 p.m. Thursday with RiverDogs RHP Andy Beresford (1-0, 3.62 ERA) pitching against Braves LHP Chris Diaz (0-0, 2.30 ERA).