Charleston digs themselves into early hole, but offense rallies in blowout win
CHARLESTON, SC – Angel Aguilar went 3-for-6 with a double and four RBIs and the RiverDogs overcame a five-run deficit and three early defensive mishaps to rally past Rome, 14-8, on Thursday night at State Mutual Stadium.
Charleston (6-2) has now won in comeback fashion five times while adding a season-high 14 runs to their league-leading total of 59 through the first eight games of the South Atlantic League slate to pull into a share of first-place with both Rome (6-2) and Columbia.
The RiverDogs’ bats came out hot right from the start as four straight men reached to start the ballgame and gave Charleston a 3-0 lead early. Hoy Jun Park and Diego Castillo each singled before Blake Rutherford drew a walk to load the bases. Aguilar came through with another clutch hit, roping a single to left-center to score two. Two batters later, catcher Donny Sands made it 3-0 on an RBI groundout to second to plate Rutherford.
After the fast start, the RiverDogs defense once again allowed the opposition back into the ballgame. Speedster Anfernee Seymour reached on a routine ground ball bobbled at short by Castillo, and raced to third base on a bunt single laid down by Derian Cruz, another burner on the bases, to give the Braves to quick men on. With center fielder Cristian Pache at the plate, the two fleet of foot Braves prospects executed a double steal as Sands’ throw to second failed to catch Cruz in time and allowed Seymour to swipe home. Charleston starter Freicer Perez walked Cristian Pache on four pitches to put more activity on the bases. Juan Yepez followed with a single. First baseman Anthony Concepcion nearly grounded into a double play, but a beautiful backhanded flip by Park at second to Castillo was thrown away by the RiverDogs shortstop into foul territory, allowing two more runs to score. After Brett Cumberland was hit by a pitch, Randy Ventura singled home another. A ground ball off the bat of Kevin Josephina struck Cumberland to end the inning with the Braves now leading 4-3.
In the second, Rome added two more runs in part to a third Charleston error as Perez balked in another before finishing his night allowing seven runs, two earned, with a pair of walks and one strikeout. It was the fifth time in the first seven games a RiverDogs starter failed to throw a pitch in the fifth, and the shortest outing for a member of the rotation this year.
Phillip Diehl (2-0, 4.50) turned in an iron man-like performance out the bullpen to keep the RiverDogs in it. After giving up a run on an RBI knock by Cruz in the third, the Cincinnati native punched out Pache and Yepez to end the inning and would settle in from there, finishing with seven strikeouts and just three total hits allowed across five frames.
Charleston plated two in the fourth to stay in it, doing all of their damage with two outs. Carlos Vidal and Park each hustled out infield singles back-to-back before two consecutive errors by Cruz at short extended the inning and allowed two to score, making it 8-5.
In the sixth, Charleston batted around and brought home a pair to make it a one-run ballgame. Rutherford drew his third walk of the ballgame, a career-high, Aguilar struck out, and Estevan Florial reached on the second base on balls of the inning to prompt a Braves pitching change. Sands hit a groundball to short that was double clutched by Cruz once again, allowing the RiverDogs backstop to reach on a fielder’s choice and load the bases with one out. On the first pitch, first baseman Brandon Wagner launched a fly ball deep enough to score Rutherford and even the game at eight apiece. After Gilliam walked and Vidal reached on the third Rome error of the game, a bobbled ground ball to second by Josephina, Park cleared the bases with a double roped into right field to push Charleston out to a 12-8 advantage.
The RiverDogs added two more on an RBI single by Wagner and a fourth Rome error in the ninth.
Park finished with a career-high four hits and Castillo added three more as the RiverDogs’ one and two hitters combined to go 7-for-12 from the top of the order.
Garrett Mundell used six strikeouts to get through two innings to finish out of the bullpen as Matt Custred (0-1) took the loss for the Braves.
The RiverDogs continue their weeklong road trip with game two tomorrow at State Mutual Stadium. Charleston RHP Jio Orozco (0-0, 2.25) faces last year’s Braves first-rounder, RHP Ian Anderson (0-0, 1.93), at 12 noon from Rome, Ga. The game will be broadcast exclusively online on riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn app station.
RiverDogs tickets, including options for the all-new Riley Park Club, are now available and can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Those that can’t make it to the park can follow every pitch of the RiverDogs season on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area or by streaming online at riverdogs.com and the TuneIn Radio App by searching “RiverDogs.”