HICKORY, NC - Dante Bichette, Jr. led the offensive charge for the Charleston RiverDogs as he finished 2-4 with two doubles, a walk, two runs scored and four RBI's to lead the RiverDogs past the Hickory Crawdads 9-5 in Saturday's series opener at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League action.
With the win, the RiverDogs improve to 15-11 in the second half and 54-40 overall. With the loss, the Crawdads drop to 16-12 in the second half and 55-43 overall.
The Charleston RiverDogs offense struck early and often Saturday night to earn their first victory in Hickory this season. When Charleston traveled to Hickory earlier this season, L.P. Frans Stadium did not treat them well as they left Hickory in late April with four straight losses.
This go-around was much friendlier as the RiverDogs scored two runs in the first inning, a run in the third inning, four runs in the fourth inning, one in the seventh and one final run for good measure in the eighth inning.
Five of the nine RiverDogs in the starting lineup all tallied two or more hits. Reymond Nunez finished his night going 3-for-4 with three singles, a walk and a run scored. Cito Culver (1-3) reached on three walks and scored twice.
Charleston starter Vicente Campos pitched his regular four innings and departed due to his innings limit. Campos allowed a run on two hits while striking out six and walking just one. Luis Niebla (4-5) made his first appearance since being demoted to the bullpen and was excellent. The right hander came in to relieve Campos in the fifth and was unhittable. Niebla's final line was three shutout innings that saw him allow just two hits while striking out six. Relieving Niebla to start the bottom of the eighth was Adam Smith. Smith went just one inning and struggled as he allowed three runs on four hits with one strikeout and two walks. Lefty James Pazos came in for the bottom of the ninth inning to close out the game and allowed a run on two hits and walked one.
For the Crawdads, they struck for their first run in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Nick Vickerson singled and then came around to score on the very next at-bat as Ronald Guzman doubled Vickerson in. Guzman finished his evening 3-for-5 with a two singles, a double and the two RBI's.
The Crawdads struck for three runs in the eighth inning when they sent eight hitters to the plate. David Lyon had a two RBI double for his lone hit of the night in the eighth. The 'Dads final run came across in the ninth on an RBI double by Nick Williams.
Hickory starter Frank Lopez (2-4) took the loss as he lasted just 3.2 innings and allowed seven runs on five hits with five strikeouts and five walks.
Game two of this four game set against the Crawdads is scheduled for 5pm Sunday at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory. Charleston will send RHP Brett Gerritse (6-5, 4.58 ERA) to the mound as Hickory counters with LHP Andrew Faulkner (3-2, 3.08 ERA). You can listen to the game live locally on ESPN 910 AM or online at www.riverdogs.com.