Tyler Austin hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Charleston RiverDogs a 7-6 win over the Greenville Drive in South Atlantic League action Thursday night in front of 4,521 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
With their victory, the RiverDogs improved their record to 31-15 and maintained their hold on first place in the Southern Division, half a game ahead of the Asheville Tourists. Greenville's loss put them at 22-24 so far this season. The 4:03, 13-inning game was the longest of the year for Charleston.
Ali Castillo started things off in the inning with a lead-off single. Castillo then beat the throw to second on a bunt by Casey Stevenson. After both runners moved up on a sacrifice, an intentional walk brought up Austin (4-7, 2 RBI, run), who finally ended the long night. Mariel Checo (5-0) struck out the side in the top of the inning to earn his fifth win of the season. Austin had also tied the game in the ninth inning with a two-out single that scored Cito Culver to even the game at six.
"The guys really battled after falling behind early," said RiverDogs manager Carlos Mendoza. "The bullpen kept us in the game and we were able to win it late. That was a great team win after two tough losses in Savannah, and hopefully we can keep it going."
Greenville quickly jumped on starter Will Oliver in the first inning for three runs. Jose Garcia (3-5, RBI, 2 runs) doubled to open the game and scored on a two-out single by David Renfroe. After a walk and a wild pitch, Henry Ramos doubled to score both runners for an early 3-0 lead. In the second stanza, the Drive scored again on a RBI single by Garcia that scored Jose Vinicio, who had singled and stole second.
The RiverDogs put together a rally in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, but only scored one run. They got a second run in the sixth when Dante Bichette, Jr. doubled and scored on a double by Ben Gamel, but the Drive regained their four run lead when they scored twice in the seventh. Garin Cecchini laced an RBI triple into right and scored on a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-2.
Charleston didn't go away, though. In the eighth, Gary Sanchez blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall to cut the deficit in half and an RBI single by Castillo later in the inning made the score 6-5. Then came the crucial ninth inning that forced extras.