Jeff Hendrix Leads Late Rally, Charleston RiverDogs Break Losing Skid
It had been a tough stretch lately, as the Charleston RiverDogs had lost four games in a row and sure looked like they were on their way to a fifth. However, a late rally where the team scored six runs over the final three innings led a comeback that gave the RiverDogs the 7-5 victory over the Greenville Drive. CF Jeff Hendrix led the comeback, belting out a career high five hits in the win.
Jose Almonte started for Greenville against Yefrey Ramirez, and for four innings this was a very close pitchers’ duel. Ramirez allowed a first inning run and then through the next four innings neither team could put up any more runs.
In the fifth each team would plate a run. Austin Afenir doubled to start the frame. Almonte struck out the next two hitters, but a passed ball allowed Afenir to move to third and he scored on a single by Hendrix.
The game was tied, but it would not be that way for long. Luis Alexander Basabe led off for Greenville, and he drilled his fifth home run of the season over the right field fence to put the Drive on top again.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Drive would extend their lead. Chad De La Guerra singled to start the inning. Josh Ockimey singled two batters later to move De La Guerra to third and the rally was underway. A ground out by Mitchell Gunsolus scored De La Guerra and a single by Jayce Ray moved Ockimey to third. A walk to Basabe loaded the bases and Rolandi Baldwin beat out a ground ball for a single to make it 4-1.
The RiverDogs looked like they were on their way to their fifth straight loss, but six runs over the next three innings gave them the lead. Charleston grabbed their first run in the top of the seventh. Gosuke Katoh walked to lead off the frame and Hendrix followed with a double that moved him to third. A sacrifice fly by Hoy Jun Park scored Katoh and it was 4-2.
In the top of the eighth Charleston grabbed the lead. Kuehl McEachern come on in relief. His defense let him down right away when an error by the first baseman allowed Chris Gittens to reach first base. Connor Spencer followed with a single, but McEachern was able to strike out the next two hitters. He even struck out the third on what should have been the final out, but the pitch was in the dirt, allowing Leonardo Molina to reach on the wild pitch. With new life, Katoh followed with a single scoring Gittens and Hendrix’s line drive base hit scored Spencer and Molina to give the RiverDogs their first lead of the game.
The lead would be short-lived, however. Josh Ockimey drew a walk to get the frame started and Mitchell Gunsolus was hit by a pitch. Andrew Schwaab came on in relief but gave up a single to Ray that scored Ockimey to tie the game.
In the ninth Charleston grabbed the lead for good. Park walked to get the rally started and Kyle Holder laid down a perfect bunt to move him to second. Gittens then drilled a double to the wall in center, easily scoring Park to put the RiverDogs up by one. Jhalan Jackson’s single scored Gittens and it was 7-5.
Schwaab (4-1) retired the Drive in order in the bottom half of the ninth to earn the victory. McEachern took the loss.
Hendrix finished with the perfect day, going 5-5 with a double and 3-runs driven in. Afenir added a 3-5 day with a run and a double. De La Guerra went 2-5 with 2-runs scored for Greenville. Ockimey also had 2-hits and 2-runs scored, plus he added an RBI.
The Greenville Drive (26-26) move on to Asheville to take on the Tourists (26-25) Thursday night. The Charleston RiverDogs (31-20) head home to take on Kannapolis (20-33). Daris Vargas (4-1, 2.29) will start for the RiverDogs. He will be opposed by Zach Thompson (4-2, 3.25). Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier