Connor Spencer’s Walk-Off Double Sends Charleston RiverDogs to Victory
The Charleston RiverDogs have been looking for a spark of late. The team has lost five of their last six games, and after falling behind 3-1 to the Kannapolis Intimidators, they had to be feeling like loss number six in that run was on its way. Even after Charleston had taken the lead, a ninth inning run allowed Kannapolis to tie the game, sending it to extra innings. The game had despair written all over it, but Connor Spencer delivered a huge double in the tenth that brought home the winning run with the walk-off hit.
Both RiverDogs starter Christian Morris and Kannapolis starter Tanner Banks kept this a scoreless tie through the first two frames. However, each team would plate a run in the bottom of the third. In the top of the third Landon Lassiter doubled with one out to get the rally started. Johan Cruz was then hit by a pitch and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. A single by Danny Mendick plated Lassiter and moved Cruz to third. With just one out and runners at the corners, this inning had the potential to get a lot worse, but Morris stuck out Seby Zavala before getting Antonio Rodriguez to ground out to end the inning.
Charleston wasted no time getting the run back in the bottom half of the inning. Nathan Mikolas doubled to get the rally started. He moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a lined single by Jeff Hendrix to make it 1-1.
That is how it would remain until the top of the fifth. Back-to-back singles by Frank Califano and Lassiter got the inning started for Kannapolis. Cruz then laid down a perfect bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. Morris stuck out Mendick, but Zavala delivered a huge two-out single to score both runners to make it a 3-1 game.
The RiverDogs responded right away again, scoring three in the bottom half of the inning. Leonardo Molina beat out a ground ball for a single with one out and moved to second on a single by Kyle Holder two batters later. There were two outs and Charleston needed a big hit. Hoy Jun Park delivered it with a line drive into right field that cleared the bases. Park raced for the triple, his seventh of the season, and the RiverDogs were tied with the Intimidators. A throwing error allowed Park to score to give Charleston the lead.
It would stay a 4-3 Charleston lead until the top of the ninth. Andrew Schwaab took over looking for the save. He was greeted by a Grant Massey double and Bradley Strong followed by looking to lay down a sacrifice bunt. He laid it down perfectly and raced for the single. A base hit by Tyler Sullivan scored Massey to tie the game. Kannapolis had the chance to take the lead when Johan Cruz hit a ball to third. Bradley Strong looked to score, but Angel Aguilar fired to the catcher for the out to keep it tied.
In the bottom of the tenth Taylore Cherry took over for Kannapolis. Chris Gittens walked to start the inning, bringing Spencer to the plate. He drilled a fly ball into center field that dropped in for double. Gittens raced all the way around to score the winning run and the Charleston RiverDogs won 5-4.
Mikolas finished 3-4 with a run scored for the RiverDogs. Hendrix and Holder each had two hits. Park drove in two. Willie Gabay (2-0) earned the victory.
The two teams will face off again tomorrow. Game time is 6:05.
By Robert Pannier