Diego Castillo, RiverDogs Offense Pounds Hickory in 14-4 Victory
A night after scoring 11-runs against the Hickory Crawdads, the Charleston RiverDogs returned to the diamond and saw their offense catch fire once again, pounding out 16-hits and 14-runs in the 10-run victory. Diego Castillo had 3-hits, 2-runs, and 3-RBI in the win, and Ben Ruta added 3-hits in his second game with the RiverDogs.
This game got off to a great start for Charleston when they scored six runs in the first inning. Estevan Florial started off the game by drawing a walk, and Isiah Gilliam singled to put two on with no one out. Next up was Hoy Jun Park, who lined a triple to the wall in center, bringing both runners home and staking the RiverDogs to the early 2-0 lead. Blake Rutherford followed with a base hit to drive home Park, and Donny Sands singled to put two on with no one out. A fielder’s choice then put runners at the corners with one out, before Oswaldo Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly that scored Rutherford to make it 4-0. With a runner at first and two down, Ben Ruta beat out a ground ball for a single and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Diego Castillo followed with a base hit to left field that scored both runners and the RiverDogs were up by six.
In the top of the second inning, Charleston would extend their lead to nine. Gilliam reached on an error to start the inning, but was erased on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Park. Rutherford followed with his second hit of the game before Sands singled to score Park and extend the lead to seven. A base hit by Wagner loaded the bases and Cabrera followed with a single to bring home two more runners to make it a 9-0 RiverDogs lead.
While the offense was giving Charleston a huge lead early on, starter Brian Keller was dominating the Crawdads through the first four innings. He retired the first 10 batters of the game, striking out seven during that span, and saw his run finally come to an end when Miguel Aparicio singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth.
Hickory had no answers for the RiverDogs starter early on, but would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Kowalczyk and Ti’Quan Forbes open the inning with back-to-back singles before Keller threw a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. Two batters later, Isaias Quiroz doubled into left field to drive home both runners, making it 9-2.
In the bottom of the sixth Hickory reduced at lead to five. With one down, Leody Taveras doubled into left field and, two batters later, Kowalczyk drilled his second homerun of the season over the right-center field fence to make the score 9-4.
It would stay that way until the top of the eighth, when the Charleston RiverDogs added three more runs. Ruta and Castillo opened the inning with back-to-back singles before Florial lined a double into right field to score Ruta. Gilliam singled to drive home Castillo, and a wild pitch moved Gilliam into second. Rutherford’s sacrifice fly brought Florial home to make it 12-4.
In the top of the ninth-inning Charleston scored two more runs. With one out, Ruta and Castillo delivered back-to-back triples, and Florial then hit a sacrifice fly to score Castillo to make it 14-4. That would be the final score.
Brian Keller (3-2) went 6-innings to earn the victory, allowing 6-hits and 4-runs, while striking out a season-high 10. Diego Castillo was 3-5 with 2-runs and 3-RBI, plus he hit his first triple of the season. Ben Ruta was also 3-5 and scored 3-runs. He is 5-9 since joining the RiverDogs. Oswaldo Cabrera also drove in 3-runs. The Hickory Crawdads offense was led by Alex Kowalczynk who was 2-4 with 2-runs, a homer, and 2-RBI.
Nick Nelson (0-2, 7.16) will go for Charleston on Friday night against Hickory. He will be opposed by Edgar Arrendondo (0-2, 7.50). First pitch is that 7:00.
By Robert Pannier