The Rome Braves eliminated the Charleston RiverDogs with a 4-1 victory Saturday night at Joe Riley Park in Charleston. The win clinched the South Division title for the Braves as they won the series two games to one. The Braves will face the Lakewood Blueclaws for the South Atlantic League championship.
The Braves were paced by their starter Max Fried (1-0) who is one of the Atlanta Braves top pitching prospects. Fried went seven and two-thirds innings striking out 11 while allowing only one run.
The RiverDogs did jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Hoy Jun Park doubled in Kane Sweeney. Rome answered right back in the top of the third when Austin Riley singled to left field scoring Ray-Patrick Didder to knot the game at one.
Christian Morris (0-1) started for the Dogs and ran into big trouble in the fifth inning. Alejandro Salazar started off the inning with a bouncing single through the left side of the infield. Ray-Patrick Didder then came up and bunted in an attempt to sacrifice Salazar to second. Morris fielded the bunt, but Sweeney at first could not handle the throw cleanly allowing Didder to reach, moving Salazar to second. Austin Riley then ripped a double to left center bringing home Salazar and Didder to give Rome a 3-1 lead.
Rome wasn’t finished yet as Justin Ellison then drove home Riley by ripping a double to left-center field to extend the lead to 4-1 knocking out Morris.
Cody Carroll pitched strong in relief (3.2 IP, 1 H, 3 SO) of Morris keeping the Dogs within 4-1, but the offense could not mount a comeback like in game two where the Dogs stormed back from down 3-1 in the seventh to win 4-3. Devan Watts earned the save (2) by shutting out the RiverDogs while striking out two.
The loss ended the season for the RiverDogs who had made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and won the South Division first-half title with an almost completely different team that represented Charleston in the playoffs.
“We had a great group of guys, we changed a lot, but somehow we were able to stay close as a team no matter who came into the clubhouse and I think that’s a big reason why we were so successful. Great group of guys and look forward to playing with them in the future,” RiverDogs shortstop Kyle Holder said about the season.
RiverDogs defensive coach Travis Chapman summed up the season like this, “It was a great season for the RiverDogs and Charleston and we look at it as that, a great season. And obviously we wanted to end up playing up north in Lakewood, but we ran into a buzzsaw tonight and Fried threw really well and they played a good game and a great three-game series and they came out ahead today.”