The Greenville Drive (13-31) used the home run to their advantage in a series victory over the Hickory Crawdads (24-19) in April, but it was the Crawdads who benefitted from the long ball on Monday night, as a pair of homers propelled them to a 5-2 victory.
Jordan Akins delivered the big blow in the bottom of the second inning for the Crawdads, as he smoked a three-run homer to left field against Drive starter Brian Johnson (1-3) to give Hickory a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Ryan Rua added to the Crawdads' lead in the sixth inning when he drove a solo homer over the wall in left against JB Wendelken.
Those runs were enough for Crawdads starter Connor Sadzeck (3-2), as he allowed just one earned run in six innings of work while punching out five hitters. Cody Kendall and Alex Claudio combined to shut out the Drive for the final three innings, with Claudio striking out the side in the ninth to pick up his seventh save of the year.
The Drive took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, as Tim Roberson and Drew Turocy hit back-to-back singles leading off the frame that put runners at the corners. Two batters later, Bryan Johns hit an RBI groundout to shortstop to put the Drive on the board.
Their final run of the evening came in the fifth, as Mookie Betts and Aneury Tavarez singled with one out to put runners on the corners once again. Tavarez then stole second, and a throwing error by Hickory catcher Jorge Alfaro brought Betts home and pushed Tavarez to third.
The Crawdads picked up an insurance run in the eighth inning when Alfaro and Rua hit back-to-back triples.
Rua had two hits and two RBIs for Hickory, while Akins drove in three. Tavarez and Turocy each collected three hits for Greenville, and Betts' fifth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
The same teams will meet for game two of the three-game set tomorrow night in Hickory, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05. RHP Frank Montas (1-4, 5.56) will start for the Drive, while LHP Andrew Faulkner (0-0, 0.00) gets the ball for the Crawdads.