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 Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action. It was Avelino's first home run of the season and the second blast of his professional career.
The RiverDogs improved to 26-25 in the second half and 59-62 overall. The Crawdads slipped to 29-22 and 70-50 overall. Charleston also took a 1-0 lead in this three-game series.
Hickory was able to grab an early 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 Bulldog 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, Avelino lifted the RiverDogs to a 3-1 advantage. 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 1.
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 fly out, 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 earned a win in relief for the RiverDogs. The southpaw allowed just one run in 4.1 innings pitched and climbed to 2-3 with the victory. Crawdads starting pitcher Tyler Smith was tagged with the loss and dropped to 6-4. 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.
BALLPARK FUN: Ethan Miller received a flat screen television from Carolina One, which is giving away a television 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.
COMING UP: Game two of this three-game series will be at 7:05pm on Tuesday. Charleston RHP Luis Niebla (1-1, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Hickory RHP David Ledbetter (5-5, 6.15 ERA). Harris Teeter 2-for-$20 Date Night Tuesday, presented by Nash FM, includes a food drive to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank as well as a special ballpark offer for couples that 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-DOGS (3647) or on-line atwww.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.