Hickory, N.C. – After coming out on the losing end of a 13-inning affair Saturday night, the RiverDogs needed to break out in a big way Sunday afternoon.
They certainly did. Led by left fielder Canaan Smith’s cycle, Charleston (20-16) won its 20th game of the season in convincing fashion by a final score of 13-5 over the Hickory Crawdads at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Crawdads (23-12) starter Tim Brennan (2-2, 5.45) was able to work around a first-inning, two-out double by Smith in a scoreless top of the frame, something that would prove tough to come by for Crawdads pitching Sunday afternoon.
RiverDogs righty Luis Medina (0-2, 8.49) did one better, striking out Curtis Terry in a perfect bottom half of the inning.
Charleston got on the board in the top of the second, when Frederick Cuevas plated Mickey Gasper, who walked to lead off the inning, on a double into the right field corner and advanced to third on the throw home. Mitchell Robinson, making his season debut for the Dogs, was unable to bring Cuevas home on a groundout to the pitcher, but Ricky Surum came through with a sacrifice fly to center field to ensure that Cuevas would not be stranded.
Hickory struck back in the bottom of the second, when Melvin Novoa hit a leadoff double and came around to score on two wild pitches by Molina to cut the lead in half. Sherten Apostle drew a two out walk following the score, but was stranded on first.
The floodgates were just opening for the RiverDogs as they headed to the top of the third inning. Brandon Lockridge led off the frame with this fourth home run of the season, and his second in as many games. Later in the inning, Cuevas hit his second double of the game to drive in Kyle Gray and Smith, who both singled following the long ball, to put Charleston ahead 5-1.
A leadoff single by Lockridge in the fourth inning and a long two-run home run to right field by Gray, followed by an RBI groundout by Josh Breaux to drive in Smith after he tripled had the Dogs up 8-1, but that’s when Medina started to lose his command.
He struck out the first two Crawdads of the inning, but allowed the next five to reach on a single, two doubles and two free passes. By the time Medina fanned Matt Whatley to end the inning, Hickory had clawed back to within four.
The RiverDogs offense was relentless, though, scoring four more times in the top of the fifth, on a walk, two singles and two more doubles to open up a 12-4 lead heading to the home half of the inning.
Hickory got one back, on a leadoff home run by Jonathan Ornelas, but that would be all they could muster for the rest of the contest. Medina fought through his command issues to complete 4.2 innings, giving up 5 earned runs on five hits, issuing five walks and striking out eight, before being relieved by Wellington Diaz.
The game didn’t see another tally until, you guessed it, Canaan Smith stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, in need of a home run to complete the cycle.
He took two strikes from Hickory reliever Abdiel Mendoza before turning on an 0-2 offering and crushing it over the wall in left-center field. Smith’s cycle marked the first for the RiverDogs since Matt Quatraro did it on July 6, 1997 at The Joe, also against the Hickory Crawdads.