Charleston RiverDogs Five-Run Seventh Leads to 6-4 Victory
The Charleston RiverDogs of 2017 are quickly proving to be comeback kids much like the 2016 version. Last season began with the RiverDogs winning their first three games of the season in walk-off performances, and Friday the team used that script for victory as well. However, Saturday evening, Charleston started their rally a little earlier, scoring five-runs in the seventh to erase a three-run deficit in defeating the Lexington Legends, 6-4.
The Legends would take the lead in the top of the first inning. Khalil Lee walked to start the frame and then stole second base. Charlotte starter Jio Orozco retired the next two hitters, but Chris DeVito came up clutch, singling to center to score Lee to make it 1-0. The damage could have been much greater had it not been for the heads up play of Angel Aguilar. With two outs, Manny Olloque singled into left field. Carlos Vidal fired the ball home looking to nail DeVito, but Aguilar cut the ball off and tagged out Amalani Fukofuka before DeVito could score for the final out of the frame.
Through the first four innings of the contest it would be a real tight affair as the one run would be all that Orozco or Lexington starter Gerson Garabito would allow. In fact, Garabito was absolutely brilliant, retiring the first 12 RiverDogs batters of the game.
In the fifth both teams would get a run. With Orozco replaced by Phillip Diehl, the Legends would quickly take advantage. Diehl retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Gabriel Cancel followed with a double and scored when Kort Peterson grounded a single into left field to make it 2-0.
Charleston had not done anything against Garabito through the first four frames, but would finally get on the board in the fifth. With one out, Estevan Florial singled. Two batters later he would steal second and moved to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Aguilar, Brandon Wagner delivered the two out hit, scoring Wagner to make it 2-1.
The Legends responded right away in the top of the sixth. Olloque reached on an error to start the inning and moved to second on a base hit by Nick Dini. Ricky Aracena then attempted to move both runners up with a bunt, but Diehl made a fine play to corral the ball and throw to Aguilar to cut down Olloque at third. Next up was Angelo Castellano, who drilled a double to left field that scored both runners to make it 4-1.
Garabito had been brilliant through the first six innings, allowing just 2-hits and a run, while striking out 5. He left after throwing 73 pitches and Julio Pinto took over, but he would not survive the frame.
Pinto retired the first two batters of the inning, but Aguilar kept the frame going with his second double of the year. Wagner walked and Diego Castillo followed with a single that scored Aguilar to make it 4-2. Carlos Vidal then drew a walk and that would be it for Pinto.
Vance Tatum relieved but he could not stop the bleeding. Oswaldo Cabrera drew a walk to score Wagner and it was a one-run game. Next up was Blake Rutherford, who hit a single into left field that scored two runs and gave Charleston their first lead of the game. Donny Sands then grounded a single to left to bring home the fifth runner of the inning and it was 6-4 Charleston.
In the eighth, Anyelo Gomez took over the hill for the RiverDogs. He would go the final two innings, striking out 5 for his first save of the season. Despite giving up the 3-runs, Diehl (1-0) earned the victory.
The RiverDogs scored six runs in the game, despite only recording six hits. No batter had more than one hit in the contest. Blake Rutherford drove in two.
The final contest of this four-game series is on Sunday at 5:05. Ofreidy Gomez gets the start for the Lexington Legends and Brian Keller goes for the Charleston RiverDogs.
By Robert Pannier