Late Rally Gives Charleston RiverDogs 5-1 Victory
You will have to excuse Nick Green if he was looking a little frustrated Sunday afternoon. The right-hander has endured a number of games this season where he gave up two-runs or less, only to find himself earning a no-decision or on the losing end because his team was unable to score. It looked like this was going to be the case on Sunday as Green left after five trailing 1-0 to Gabriel Llanes. However, the RiverDogs rallied late, scoring two-runs in the sixth and seventh innings, and adding an insurance run in the eighth on their way to the 5-1 victory over the Columbia Fireflies.
The Fireflies took the lead in the first inning. Gene Cone grounded a single into center field to begin the game and moved to second on a base hit by Andres Gimenez. Next up was Michael Paez, who laid down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a base hit. That loaded the bases with no one out. This inning could have gotten ugly quickly, but Green got Dash Winningham to fly out for a sacrifice fly before recording a strikeout and a ground out to end the inning. Columbia still led, 1-0.
Llanes looked brilliant from the very start. He retired the first 10 batters he faced, only seeing his run come to an end with one out in the fourth when he gave of a base hit to Diego Castillo. Through the first five innings, he’d allowed just two hits, while striking out four.
Green was looking nearly as impressive. After allowing the run in the first inning, Green retired 15 of the next 18 batters he faced, with only one of those reaching on a single. It was an impressive performance, which looked like it was going for naught, as Charleston seemed to have no answers for the Columbia starter.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, the RiverDogs would finally get on the board. Hoy Jun Park let off the inning with a single to center field, and moved to second on a base hit by Castillo. Blake Rutherford then stepped to the plate, and lined a ball down the left-field line for a double. Park came around to score on the play while Castillo raced into third. Estevan Florial followed with a base hit that easily scored Castillo, but Rutherford was thrown out of the plate trying to score. That kept the lead 2-1 for Charleston.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Charleston RiverDogs would extend their lead to three. Brandon Wagner and Ben Ruta led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and both runners came around to score on a double by Donny Sands. That made the score 4-1.
Charleston added one more run in the bottom of the eighth. With two down, Angel Aguilar lined a double into left-field. He came around to score when Isiah Gilliam followed with a ground ball that hit off the second baseman’s glove and rolled into right field. Gilliam raced into second with a double as Aguilar scored to extend the lead to four.
In the top of the ninth, Columbia threatened. Luis Carpio singled and moved to second on a wild pitch before Ali Sanchez walked. Hobie Harris struck out the next two hitters, but then walked Cone, bringing the tying run to the plate. However, he coolly induced Milton Ramos to ground out to end the game.
Matt Frawley (4-1) earned the victory, tossing two scoreless innings where he struck out 4. Diego Castillo and Angel Aguilar were both 2-4 in the game with a run scored. Aguilar added an RBI. Donny Sands had a double and 2-RBI. The Columbia offense was led by Michael Paez, who had 3-hits.
The Charleston RiverDogs are off tomorrow as the South Atlantic League heads to the All-Star break.
By Robert Pannier