The Charleston RiverDogs snapped a four-game skid and six-game losing streak at home, defeating the Delmarva Shorebirds 5-3 Friday night at Joe Riley Park.
The RiverDogs struck first in the bottom of the second against Birds starter Zach Muckenhirn. Isiah Gilliam hit a chopping ball over third baseman Collin Woody‘s head to score Diego Castillo for a 1-0 Dogs lead.
Dogs starter Nick Nelson struggled in his three innings of work constantly falling behind hitters. In his final inning, the Birds tagged him for three runs highlighted by Woody’s hard line drive single to left field that scored Irving Ortega and Ryan McKenna to make it 3-1 Shorebirds. “Good to see Nick Nelson back out there again. Hopefully, we can get him on the right track because his start before the injury he was really, really good,” RiverDogs manager Pat Osborn said of Nelson’s effort.
The RiverDogs clawed back with runs in the bottom of the fourth and sixth to tie the game. Carlos Vidal hit a grounder that scored Diego Castillo making the score 3-2. In the sixth, Vidal picked up another RBI with a single that scored Isiah Gilliam to tie the game at three.
In the seventh, the Dogs would take the lead for good off Shorebirds reliever Kory Groves (L, 1-2, 3.38 ERA). Estevan Florial started things off with an infield single beating out the throw from second baseman Chris Clare. After Angel Aguilar had lined out to left field, Hoy Park singled through the hole between the first baseman and second baseman to send Florial to third. Donny Sands hit a ball in the hole that shortstop Irving Ortega fielded and tried to get Park and second. Ortega threw the ball away trying to get Park at second. Florial scored, giving Sands a RBI infield single, and the bad throw allowed Park to go to third. With the Dogs now leading 4-3, Blake Rutherford lifted a sac fly to left scoring Park for a 5-3 lead.
“We’ve hadn’t been playing too bad the last couple of nights, just haven’t been getting some breaks and big hits and tonight we got it,” Osborn said
Phillip Diehl (W, 4-0, 1.93 ERA) pitched four scoreless innings while striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits in relief to earn the win. In the top of the seventh, Diehl worked himself into a jam walking Ortega to lead off the inning. McKenna followed with a hard single up the middle. Jake Ring then laid down a sac bunt. Diehl fielded and threw to third to try and get Ortega, but Aguilar could not come up with the throw, loading the bases with no one out. Diehl then got Chris Clare to ground out to Aguilar who cut down Ortega at the plate. Diehl then struck out Woody and got out of the jam by getting Cole Billingsley to hit a soft liner to Dogs first baseman Brandon Wagner.
“I felt great, felt strong on the mound. I was going fastball-slider primarily and attacking the hitters and using my defense,” Diehl said. “I got myself into it and got myself out of it,” Diehl said when asked about the seventh inning threat.
Anyelo Gomez worked two scoreless innings for his sixth save of the season. He allowed one hit while striking out four batters.
“Phillip Diehl, what a job by him to get out of that bases-loaded, no out jam. So it was a nice effort overall and glad to be back in the win column,” Osborn said. “It’s huge, that’s really the game. You gotta pitch, play defense and get big hits and we were able to do that tonight.”
The RiverDogs face the Shorebirds in a 6:05 PM start Saturday night in game two of the four-game series. With the win, the RiverDogs move to 14-15 on the year while the Shorebirds drop to 13-15.