CHARLESTON, SC – The Charelston RiverDogs defeated the Kannapolis Intimidators 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel Friday night at Joe Riley Park.
Nick Nelson started for the game and mowed down 12 Intimidators in five innings allowing just two hits and one run. The Intimidators jumped out to a 1-0 in the first innning off of Nelson when Craig Dedelow ripped a double to the right center field gap scoring Luis Gonzalez, who had led off the game in the first with a walk and advanced to second on a Justin Yurchak single. Those would be the only two hits Nelson would allow in five innings pitched. “I think he started a little erratic in the first inning but he got his composure back and he threw the ball pretty well after that. I mean he kept us in the game and I couldn’t be more impressed with him,” RiverDogs manager Julio Mosquera said of Nelson’s effort.
The RiverDogs offense struggled against Kannapolis starter John Parke who held the Dogs at bay pitching five innings allowing just two hits and striking out six.
Zach Lewis would relieve Parke for the Intimidators in the sixth and the Dogs would take advantage. Steven Sensley beat out an infield hit when he beat the throw at first from shortstop Laz Rivera. With Dalton Blaser at the plate, Sensley would advance to second on a wild pitch. Blaser would advance Sensley to third with a ground out to second base. The Intimidators would pull the infield in to try and cut off the run at the plate with Chris Hess batting. Hess bounced a single over the left side of the infield to drive in Sensley and tie the game at one. “That was a good at-bat. Hess has been clutch for us this season. I think it was a great opportunity. I saw they brough the infield in and obviously he puts the ball in play a lot and it gave us a chance with the high chopper,” Mosquera said.
The score would remain at one until the bottom of the eighth when Kannapolis brough in Kevin Escorcia (L, 0-2). Sensley drove the first pitch he saw the opposite way over the left center field wall to give the Dogs the 2-1 lead paving the way for Luis Cedeno to close things out in the ninth. Sensley went 3-for-3 scoring both RiverDogs runs and driving in one. He also was hit by a pitch in the first and contributed a double in the third inning. “That’s what we want. We want our big bat in there and he’s one of our guys who have the power and we told him to be aggressive early in the count and he found a pitch he could drive and he put a good swing on it,” Mosquera said.
“I knew the game was tied up and I knew my team needed a run. I didn’t necessarily go up there thinking I’m going to hit this out. I was looking for a fastball and I put a good swing on it and good things happen,” Sensley said. With his performance, Sensley raised his batting average to .400 with three doubles and two home runs on the season. “I feel like I’ve been doing good all season. Yesterday was one of my bad nights. But as far as the season goes, I feel like I’ve been having good at-bats and hitting the ball hard. As long I can continue to do that, everything will be alright,” Sensley said.
Cedeno induced a fly ball from leadoff hitter Evan Skoug that Frederick Cuevas tracked down in left field, but he dropped the ball. Skoug hustled to second on the error. Tate Blackman laid down a sacrifice bunt to Cedeno to put Skoug at third with one out. Cedeno struck out Michael Hickman to bring Laz Rivera to the plate for Kannapolis as their last hope. Cedeno induced a ground out to shortstop Wilkerman Garcia to end the game and perserve a 2-1 victory.
Kyle Zurak (W, 1-0) earned the win for the RiverDogs pitching three scoreless innings allowing two hits and striking out three. Cedeno earned his first save of the season with his effort in the ninth.
The RiverDogs climb over .500 for the season at 5-4 while Kannapolis drops to 5-4 on the season. The two teams play game three of their four game set at Joe Riley Park Saturday at 6 P.M.