Humphreys, Szapucki Combine to Help Columbia Sweep Charleston
Rain has wreaked havoc with the Charleston RiverDogs games against the Columbia Fireflies this season, and this five-game set has been no different. Saturday saw the two teams playing a double-header thanks to a rain delay on Thursday, and Charleston had to leave the contests wishing the rains would have returned. Jordan Humphreys and Thomas Szapucki both pitched excellent games for the Fireflies, who swept the double-header, extending the RiverDogs losing streak to four.
In Game 1, Columbia plated five in the third inning, and that was all the run support that Humphreys needed in the 5-3 victory. Dash Winningham drove in two and Andres Gimenez added 3-hits to lead the offense.
Jio Orozco opposed Humphreys, and the two pitchers matched each other through the first three innings. Charleston was able to muster just two hits through the first three frames, while Orozco retired the side in order through the first two innings and gave up no hits through three.
However, in the fourth, the wheels would come off for Orozco. Gimenez led off the inning by grounding a single up the middle. Two batters later, Winningham came to the plate and he drilled his 10th homer of the year over the right field to make it 2-0. Orozco retired the second out of the inning, but the third proved to be quite elusive. Luis Carpio singled and Brandon Brosher followed with a double to move Carpio to third. A balk brought Carpio home before Tim Tebow walked. Milton Ramos then grounded to short for what should have been the third out, but an error allowed Ramos to reach and Brosher to score. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position and, after Orozco was relieved by Christian Morris, Gimenez beat out a bunt for a single to score Tebow to make it 5-0.
Charleston was doing nothing against Jordan Humphreys (9-1). That is until Estevan Florial went deep over the right field fence with one down in the sixth. It was his eighth home run of the season. At the conclusion of the inning Humphreys’ day was over. The Columbia starter allowed 6-hits and a run in 6-innings of work, while striking out 4.
In the seventh, Joseph Zanghi took over and the RiverDogs took advantage of the opportunity right away. Eduardo Navas walked with one down and he moved to second on a ground out. There were two down when Zanghi issued back-to-back walks to Oswaldo Cabrera and Hoy Jun Park. That brought Florial to the plate, who singled into center, scoring both Navas and Cabrera. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position before Mandy Alvarez walked to load the bases. That would be it for Zanghi. Columbia turned to Taylor Henry, who struck out Brandon Wagner to preserve the victory 5-3. That was Henry’s first save of the season.
Andres Gimenez was 3-4 with a run scored. Dash Winningham finished 1-3 with a run and 2-RBI for Columbia. Both Estevan Florial and Diego Castillo had 3-hits for Charleston. Florial had all 3-RBI.
In Game 2, the Columbia Fireflies scored two-runs late to earn the victory. An error and an RBI ground out led to two runs in the sixth, and Thomas Szapucki pitched 6 solid innings to earn his first victory of the season. Max Kuhns recorded his fifth save.
Columbia grabbed the lead against Austin DeCarr in the bottom of the first inning. Gene Cone led off with a single and Gimenez was hit by a pitch to put two on with no one out. The two runners moved up on the double-steal. Michael Paez followed by grounding down to third. Angel Aguilar fired to the plate to nail Cone on the fielder’s choice and the game remained scoreless. Two batters later, Carpio delivered a clutch two-out single to score Gimenez and it was 1-0 Fireflies.
Szapucki looked good early on, keeping the RiverDogs off the scoreboard, but in the fourth Charleston would take their first lead of the evening. Isiah Gilliam and Mandy Alvarez led off with back-to-back singles. Cabrera was the next hitter and he belted a double to the wall that scored both runners and put the visitors ahead 2-1.
The lead did not last long, as Columbia tied the score in the bottom half of the inning. Ali Sanchez walked with one down and Reed Gamache drew the base on balls two batters later to put two on with two down. Cone then delivered a base hit that scored Sanchez to make it 2-2.
In the sixth, the Columbia Fireflies would take the lead once again. Tim Tebow started the inning with a double down the left field line. Desmond Lindsay pinch-ran for Tebow and he scored when Reed Gamache grounded back to Raynel Espinal, who threw the ball away. Cone followed with his third hit of the game and Paez grounded out to score Gamache to give the Fireflies the 4-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Max Kuhns came on looking to close it out. He struck out Dalton Blaser to begin the inning, then issued a walk to Ben Ruta. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Kuhns got Park to fly out before fanning Castillo to end the game.
Thomas Szapucki (1-0) allowed 7-hits and a run in 6-innings of work. Max Kuhns struck out 2 in his 1-inning of work. Gene Cone went 3-4 with an RBI for Columbia. Isiah Gilliam was 2-3 with an RBI and double for Charleston and Oswaldo Cabrera was 1-3 with a double and 2-RBI.
Charleston and Columbia have an early matinee affair on Sunday. Adonis Rosa (2-2, 4.08) with start for Charleston against Gabriel Llanes (3-3, 3.05). First pitch is 2:05.
By Robert Pannier