Aaron Judge’s two-run home run in the eighth inning highlighted a late Charleston RiverDogs rally, but the Hickory Crawdads held on to a 7-3 victory on Saturday evening at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League action. Hickory’s Ryan Cordell almost hit for the cycle in a four-hit performance for the Crawdads.
Charleston drops to 24-23 while Hickory moves up to 23-24. The Crawdads also have a 2-1 advantage in this four-game series, which closes with the finale on Sunday.
In the second inning, the Crawdads garnered a 1-0 lead. Cordell led off the frame with a double against Rookie Davis and advanced to third base when Ronald Guzman grounded out. A sacrifice fly from Kellin Deglan scored Cordell for the first run of the contest.
Cordell struck again in the third, pushing Hickory’s lead to 3-0. With two outs and two runners aboard, Cordell tripled to center field and brought in Nick Vickerson and former Citadel Bulldog Joe Jackson. Davis ended three innings with three runs allowed and no strikeouts.
Crawdads southpaw Chad Bell was in search of his first win since August 29, 2012 and recorded a shutout start. Bell escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the second inning and also received big help from his defense. Deglan ended the third by throwing out a runner trying to advance to second base while Michael De Leon, Travis Demeritte, and Guzman turned an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Bell tossed five shutout innings with only five hits surrendered.
The Crawdads took a six-run advantage in the bottom of the fifth after Bell’s final frame. Guzman’s one-out double off Jordan Cote plated Nomar Mazara and Cordell for a 5-0 lead. Deglan drove in Guzman with a single to stretch the lead to 6-0.
Charleston broke up the potential shutout by scoring in the seventh inning against Ricardo Rodriguez. A Miguel Andujar single and a Dustin Fowler double, each with one out, set up Jose Rosario. Andujar scored when Rosario grounded out to first base, trimming the deficit to 6-1.
Hickory got that run back and improved its lead to 7-1 in its half of the seventh. Cordell, who reached on a single in his previous at bat, opened the frame with another single. A wild pitch and a balk put him on third base before Deglan brought him in with a groundout to first base. Cordell went 4-for-4 on Saturday and fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
Judge tagged Josh McElwee with an eight-inning home run to get the RiverDogs within four. Michael O’Neill was hit by a pitch and stole second base prior to Judge’s at bat. Judge cleared the left field wall with a line drive as Charleston cut Hickory’s lead to 7-3. The RiverDogs brought up the tying run in the ninth but left the bases loaded at the end of the game.
Bell is 1-0 following the win, his first victory since a late-season triumph with the Triple-A Round Rock Express in 2012. Davis’ fourth straight losing decision sends him to 2-4.
COMING UP: The finale of this four-game series and eight-game RiverDogs road stretch is scheduled for 5pm on Sunday. Charleston RHP Luis Severino (1-1, 1.76 ERA) will face Hickory RHP Akeem Bostick (2-2, 3.66 ERA). Beginning on Monday, May 26, the RiverDogs host an eight-game homestand at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Re-Opening Night is on tap for a May 27 doubleheader with the Greenville Drive at 6:05pm while Bark for Your Brew on June 1 at 3pm precedes the finale against the Asheville Tourists at 5:05pm. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line 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.