Brady Lail won his fifth consecutive start to tie a Charleston RiverDogs record while recording a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 4-2 RiverDogs win over the Hickory Crawdads in game one of a doubleheader at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Hickory won game two 3-0 to close the twin bill, which was played in front of 5,608 fans in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs have a 21-19 record as the Crawdads win this three-game series and are now 18-22. Lail joins Rafael De Paula and current Minnesota Twin Phil Hughes as the only RiverDogs pitchers to win five straight appearances since Charleston became a New York Yankees affiliate in 2005. He also has six wins overall, tied with Hagerstown’s Nick Pivetta for the league lead. Charleston’s Mike Ford reached safely in both games for a team-best 13-game on-base streak.
Charleston and Hickory each traded a run before the RiverDogs took the lead for good with a three-run rally in the second inning. Brandon Thomas hit a first-pitch home run, matching a similar leadoff solo shot by Jose Rosario in the first. Rosario added another run with a run-scoring single and Michael O’Neill’s groundout to shortstop gave the RiverDogs a 4-1 lead.
Hickory’s Evan Van Hoosier cut the difference to 4-2 on a triple and an error before Lail shut down the Crawdads. Lail retired his final 12 batters in a row, striking out the side during the fourth and sixth innings. Chris Smith relieved Lail and pitched a scoreless seventh inning that wrapped up the Charleston victory in the doubleheader opener
Lail is 6-1 after his fifth straight win. Frank Lopez slides to 3-2 after a complete game loss. Smith’s save was his first of the season in just his second appearance in affiliated baseball.
Game two of the doubleheader was a pitchers’ duel between Charleston’s Caleb Smith and Hickory’s Tyler Smith. Caleb Smith faced in minimum in five of his six innings pitched while Tyler Smith carried a perfect game into the fifth inning. Caleb’s eight strikeouts led the nightcap of the doubleheader while Tyler’s seven strikeouts led the Crawdads.
Hickory scored in the third and seventh innings of a shutout. Kevin Torres doubled and reached third base after a passed ball. Michael De Leon hit into a force out to bring in Torres for a 1-0 Crawdads lead. A two-run homer by Travis Demeritte in the seventh capped the scoring. Charleston was scoreless even though seven runners reached safely over the final three frames.
Tyler Smith is 1-0 with a victory in his first start of the season. Caleb Smith’s record is 3-3 following a loss, but he currently leads the SAL with a 0.70 ERA with one unearned run allowed in a quality start. Josh McElwee finished the game for his first save of 2014.
BALLPARK FUN: Titus the Bat Dog showed off his bat boy skills by retrieving bats from RiverDogs hitters. Logan Haymaker was about to deliver a ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s doubleheader when his brother, Specialist Lance Haymaker, made a surprise return home from Kandahar, Afghanistan. The doubleheader and the homestand finished with a postgame fireworks display over the scenic Ashley River.
COMING UP: Charleston will embark on an eight-game road stretch starting on Saturday at Savannah at 6:05pm. RiverDogs RHP Jaron Long (2-1, 2.59 ERA) opens up against Sand Gnats RHP Robert Gsellman (2-2, 1.48 ERA). The RiverDogs will follow this road stretch with an eight-game homestand. Re-Opening Night is scheduled for a May 27 doubleheader with the Greenville Drive while “Bark for Your Brew” on June 1 precedes the homestand finale against the Asheville Tourists. 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.