Jackson’s Arm, Walk-Off Single Gives RiverDogs Double-Header Sweep
Thursday night’s game was a scoreless tie through three innings before rain postponed the conclusion until Friday night. That gave the Charleston RiverDogs and Augusta GreenJackets a double-header where the home team produced more theatrics, winning Game 1 behind some outstanding pitching, 5-2, and getting another clutch hit from Jhalan Jackson in Game 2 to win it 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. That was already the fourth walk-off win of the season for Charleston.
Game 1 had been a pitchers’ battle before the rain suspended action. When it picked up the Augusta GreenJackets looked like they were going to take advantage right away when Dylan Davis doubled with two outs and Seth Harrison followed with a single. Dylan rounded third and looked like he may score easily, but Jackson fired a bullet from right field that nailed the runner at the plate to keep it scoreless.
In the bottom of the sixth, Charleston broke the game open. Drew Bridges singled to get it started and moved to second on a sacrifice by Angel Aguilar. Eduardo Navas was then hit by a pitch and Jeff Hendrix followed with a line drive single to right that scored Bridges to make it 1-0. A walk to Hoy Jun Park loaded the bases. Trey Amburgey then grounded into a force play that scored Navas and left runners at the corners with two outs. Amburgey then looked to steal his seventh base of the year. He slid in safely, but Zack Bowers throw to second was wild, allowing Hendrix to score and Amburgey to reach third. He scored on a wild pitch and it was 4-0 RiverDogs.
Augusta responded right away in the top of the seventh. Davis began the inning with a single but was forced out on a ground ball by Harrison. Two batters later Harrison moved to second on a wild pitch before Matt Pare was walked. With two on and two out, Bowers made up for his earlier error by ripping a clutch two-run double to the wall in left field to make it 4-2.
Not to be outdone, Charleston plated their own run in the bottom of the seventh. Thairo Estrada walked to get it started and stole his fifth base of the year to put himself into scoring position with just one out. Navas’ single to center scored Estrada to make it 5-2 and that is how the game would end.
The Charleston RiverDogs only mustered four hits, but they clearly made the most of them, scoring five runs. Navas was 1-2 with a run and an RBI.
Starter Domingo Acevedo pitched well before the rain came, allowing a lone single in 3-innings of work, while striking out 4. Daris Vargas (1-0) got the win and Travis Hissong recorded his first save of the season with 2.1 innings of fantastic relief.
The regularly scheduled match was a fantastic battle. Slated for just seven innings, the GreenJackets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Davis singled to get the frame started and Kelvin Beltre followed with his second home run of the season off of Anyelo Gomez.
Charleston responded right away just as they had in Game 1. Kendall Coleman singled with one out and Connor Spencer followed with his first home run of the season two batters later. It was a clutch two-out homer that tied the score, but the RiverDogs were not done proving how clutch they can be. Radley Haddad lined a single into right, and Hendrix was then hit by a pitch. That brought Park to the plate, who ripped a single into left, scoring Haddad and giving Charleston their first lead. Estrada then singled to left to score Hendrix and, just like that, the RiverDogs scored four runs and had the lead.
Both pitchers would really settle in at that point, keeping it a two-run game. In the top of the sixth the long ball would allow Augusta to tie the score again. Harrison homered to lead off the inning, his first of the year, and Davis hit his fourth of the year to tie the score at four.
That brought the game to the dramatic seventh inning. Park and Estrada led off the inning with back-to-back singles that put runners at the corners. Estrada took second on defensive indifference, putting two in scoring position. The GreenJackets decided to walk Jake McCasland intentionally to load the bases for Jackson. Big mistake. The RiverDogs right fielder ripped a base hit into left field, scoring Park, and giving his team the 5-4 victory.
Andrew Schwaab (3-0) got his third win of the season despite giving up the game tying home run in the sixth. Four RiverDogs hitters had two hits – Park, Estrada, Jackson, and Coleman. Spencer drove in two.
On Sunday the two teams conclude their four-game series. The Charleston RiverDogs will send left-hander Josh Rogers to the plate (2-1, 1.45). He will be opposed by fellow left-hander Mac Marshall (0-0, 4.32). Game time is 5:05.
By Robert Pannier