Estrada, Afenir Lead Charleston RiverDogs Hitting Onslaught, Down Drive 10-1
Christian Morris headed to the mound for Charleston RiverDogs Wednesday night hoping to get some run support. Little did he know that just three-innings into the contest he would already be staked to a 6-0 lead on his way to a 10-1 victory over the Greenville Drive.
After splitting the first two games of the three-game series, the RiverDogs left no doubt that this was their night. In the top of the first, Thairo Estrada led off with a single and moved to third when Hoy Jun Park followed with a single of his own. With runners at the corners and no one out, Chris Gittens grounded a single into right field, scoring Estrada and moving Park to third. A sacrifice fly by Angel Aguilar scored Park and just four batters into the game it was 2-0.
In the top of the second, Charleston would extend their lead. Jeff Hendrix started the frame with a single and moved to third when Austin Afenir doubled to right field. A sacrifice fly by Leonardo Molina scored Hendrix to make it a three-run game.
The RiverDogs hitters were swinging the bats well, and that would not stop for the next three innings. in the top of the third Aguilar singled, but was thrown out trying to steal. Kyle Holder doubled and then stole third, his fourth stolen base of the season. Jhalan Jackson then drew a walk to put runners at the corners with just one out, and Hendrix grounded out, moving each of the runners up 90-feet, scoring Holder. With Jackson at second and two outs, Afenir drilled a homerun over the left field fence for his first homerun of the season. That made the score 6-0 and the route was on.
Logan Boyd, the starter for Greenville, seemed to have no answers for the Charleston bats. In the top of the fourth the RiverDogs would add one more run and chase the Greenville starter. Park drilled his seventh double of the season to the wall with one out in the inning. Boyd’s night was over, as Jeffry Fernandez took over. Park stole third and scored when Gittens grounded a double down the line in left to make it 7-0.
The top of the fifth rolled around, and the onslaught continued. Fernandez retired the first two batters of the inning, but Afenir kept it alive with a single into center field. That brought Molina to the plate, and he promptly deposited his first homerun of the season over the left field wall to make it 9-0.
While his team was putting up runs in each of the first five innings, Morris was looking incredibly sharp. He retired the first eight Drive hitters of the game before finally yielding a two-out double in the third. That included the right-hander striking out the side in the second and the third innnings.
In the fifth, Greenville was finally able to get on the board. Chad De La Guerra doubled to start the inning, just the third hit Morris had allowed. A ground out moved him to third and De La Guerra scored on a ground out by Trent Kemp. That made it 9-1.
Morris (2-0) reached his pitch count after five innings. He allowed just 3-hits and the 1-run, while striking out 7. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.47 and 55 of his 79 pitches thrown were strikes.
In the eighth, the RiverDogs added one more run. Molina singled with one out and Estrada doubled. Park walked to load the bases and Gittens hit a sacrifice fly to score Molina to make it 10-1.
Estrada and Afenir both had three-hits apiece. Estrada finished 3-5 with a run scored and a double. Afenir was 3-4 with 2 runs scored and 2-RBI. Molina was 2-3 with 2-runs scored and 3-RBI. Gittens also drove in three, and finished 2-4.
Greenville (19-19) welcomes Lexington (16-23) to town Thursday night. Columbia (20-19) comes to Charleston (24-14). Kevin Canelon (2-2, 3.27) goes for the Fireflies. Nestor Cortes (1-0, 1.69) gets the start for The RiverDogs.
By Robert Pannier