LAKEWOOD, NJ - 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 on Wednesday at FirstEnergy Park in South Atlantic League action.
Charleston is back above .500 with a 10-9 record while the BlueClaws sink to 5-13. Charleston also wins this 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 rally. Two singles and a throwing error put runners in scoring position for Ford, who scored 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.
COMING UP: Charleston continues its road trip with a four-game series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. The series begins at 7:05pm on Thursday, April 24 with RiverDogs LHP Caleb Smith (1-1, 1.26 ERA) facing Shorebirds LHP Mitch Horacek (0-1, 2.89 ERA). Starting on Tuesday, April 29, the RiverDogs will host a seven-game homestand at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Harris Teeter 2-for-$20 Date Night Tuesday, presented by Nash FM 96.9, offers a great deal with two tickets, two tacos, two fountain drinks, and one nacho tray for just $20 for couples that show their VIC card at the box office! 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.
Box Score: http://atmilb.com/1lFaXVm