Leonardo Molina Completes Comeback as RiverDogs Win 9-8
Last season the Charleston RiverDogs were the kings of the comeback, seemingly winning the vast majority of their games with ninth inning comebacks on their way to a first half title in the North Division of the South Atlantic League. This season they have already proven that last year was no fluke, as the team rallied from three down in the ninth to defeat the Lexington Legends on a single by Leonardo Molina to give Manager Pat Osborn his first victory with the team.
In the season’s opening game, it was the Legends that took the early lead, scoring four in the first inning on the way to a 6-3 victory. Friday night it was the RiverDogs that took the early lead, grabbing four runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Hoy Jun Park, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, doubled to start the bottom half of the inning and scored when Oswaldo Cabrera followed with a single. Blake Rutherford then hit a ground ball to the shortstop who could not make a play and the first three batters for Charleston had all reached base. Two batters later, Estevan Florial singled to load the bases, before Isiah Gilliam hit a sacrifice fly that scored Cabrera. Angel Aguilar then doubled to the gap in center to score two more runs, and it was 4-0 Charleston.
RiverDogs starter Freicer Perez breezed through the first two innings, but in the third Lexington would take the lead. Angelo Castellano led off with a single, and Marten Gasparini followed by laying down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a single. Next up was Khalil Lee, who reached on an error and the bases were loaded with no one out. On the play, another error allowed Castellano to score. Perez settled down to strike out the next two batters but not before a balk scored Gasparini. However, it looked like he would escape without any further damage, but Chris DeVito continued the inning by beating out a single to score Lee. Next up was Emmanuel Rivera who tripled to right field to score DeVito and tie the game. Meibrys Viloria followed with a single and suddenly the Legends had the lead.
They would extend that lead to four with three runs in the fourth. Castellano was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and he moved to third when Khalil Lee singled two batters later. That ended the night for Perez and Adonis Rosa relieved. He was greeted with a double by Gabriel Cancel that scored both runners. Kort Peterson then singled to score Cancel and it was 8-4.
Following the first inning, Lexington starter Garrett Davila settled down and pitched beautifully over the next four frames. He allowed just two additional hits before leaving after five.
Following the two hits that he yielded in the fourth. Rosa settled down as well. He retired the last batter of the fourth, starting a run of 11 straight Legends hitters retired. A one out double ended the run, but Lexington would not score again.
In the eighth, a controversial play ended what looked like a promising rally for the Charleston RiverDogs. Jace Vines struck out the first two hitters of the inning but Molina grounded a single to right to keep the inning alive. Florial singled and Gilliam followed with a single that scored Molina. Next up was Angel Aguilar, who lined a single into right. However, Gilliam was hit by the ball and runner interference was ruled by the umpire and the inning was over.
This looked to be crushing play to the RiverDogs hopes, but they would restart the rally in the ninth. Carlos Vidal and Eduardo Navas led off with back-to-back singles. Park then grounded into a fielder’s choice that put runners at the corners with one out. Next up was Cabrera, who lined a single into left that scored Vidal to make it 8-6. Next up was Blake Rutherford, who lined a single into center that scored Park. Cabrera came around to score on an error on the throw to third by Castellano and the game was tied. That brought Molina to the plate, who ripped a single to center to score Rutherford and the Charleston RiverDogs were the 9-8 winners.
Trevor Lane (1-0) earned the victory with a perfect ninth inning of relief. The RiverDogs had 16-hits, led by Oswaldo Cabrera and Blake Rutherford, who each went 3-5 with 2-runs scored. Cabrera drove in two and Rutherford drove in a run. Leonardo Molina was 2-5 with a run and an RBI. Chris DeVito and Meibrys Viloria were both 2-4 for the Lexington Legends.
These two teams continue their series tomorrow. RHP Jio Orozco will get the start for the Lexington Legends. He will be faced by RHP Gerson Garabito. The first pitch is 6:05.
By Robert Pannier