HICKORY, N.C. – Designated hitter Josh Stowers connected on his sixth home run of the season to pull the RiverDogs within a run in the sixth, but the Hickory Crawdads added insurance to erase the late marker and take a series-clinching victory by the final of 5-3 on Sunday evening at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Stowers’ home run marked the first solid contact that the Louisville product made in three games back from an injury. The former second rounder finished the series 2-for-10 with a walk as he worked to get his timing back after three weeks on Charleston’s injured list.
The RiverDogs’ (38-36, 1-3) Roansy Contreras (5-4) and Rangers No. 1 overall prospect Hans Crouse were locked in a pitcher’s duel early, with both teams failing to break through until the bottom of the fourth. With one out, right fielder Pedro Gonzalez lined a double into left, later advancing on a wild pitch and scoring on third baseman Frainyer Chavez’s sac fly to make it 1-0 Crawdads (44-26, 3-1).
Charleston’ answered right back in the fifth to plate a pair and take the lead. Third baseman Matt Pita cashed in on a leadoff walk issued by reliever Grant Wolfram (2-2), drilling the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a double that scored Max Burt. Center fielder Brandon Lockridge followed two pitches later with a ground ball single up the middle to make it a 2-1 RiverDogs lead.
Hickory found themselves back in front as Contreras ran out of gas on the hill for the Dogs and was knocked out after recording just one out in the frame. After Kole Enright flied out to begin the inning, the Crawdads collected three straight hits, capped by a run-scoring single from Jax Biggers and a double off the right field wall by first baseman Tyreque Reed to chase the RiverDogs starter and give the Crawdads a lead they would not relinquish.
Tanner Myatt came on in relief and issued a walk and a single to Gonzalez to see the lead run to 4-2 for the ‘Dads. The inherited run was charged to Contreras, who finished allowing four runs, all earned, in 4 1/3 innings, marking his second straight start of at least four runs allowed in fewer than five innings for the 19-year-old in Hickory this season.