Gary Sanchez hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs as the Charleston RiverDogs took the first game of a doubleheader against the Asheville Tourists 19-6 on Wednesday afternoon at McCormick Field in Asheville. In game two, the Tourists scored eight times in the fourth inning on their way to a 10-5 win. The attendance for game one was 1,739, and 2,309 came out to see the top two teams in the South Atlantic League Southern Division for game two.
With the split, Asheville is now 36-17 and maintains their three and a half game lead over Charleston (32-20) in the SAL Southern Division.
The first game was the resumption of the game that was suspended due to rain Tuesday night and picked up in the bottom of the third inning with Charleston leading 7-3. After Joel De La Cruz got the final out of the third for the RiverDogs, their offense added to the lead when Tyler Austin (5-5, 2 RBI, 4 runs) tripled and scored on a single by Ben Gamel. De La Cruz (3-2) kept the Tourists off the board in the fourth and fifth with some help from his infielders. Cito Culver made two outstanding plays in the fourth, the first one starting a double play and the second one ending the inning.
In the sixth, Asheville got to De La Cruz for three runs. The inning started with a single and a walk to put two men on base with nobody out. With one out, a single by Jose Rivera scored one run and another run scored on a groundout to make the score 8-5. Trevor Story (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs) then doubled to bring in Rivera and Charleston's lead had been cut to just two runs.
The RiverDogs fought back in the eighth with six runs to blow the game open. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Austin, who patiently waited out another walk to force in a run. Sanchez (3-5, HR, 7 RBI, 3 runs) then provided the big blow with a grand slam over the wall in center to give Charleston a 13-6 lead. Casey Stevenson added some insurance later in the inning with a solo blast to right, his first of the year. Sanchez knocked in two more runs in the ninth with a bases loaded double and Angelo Gumbs hit his fourth homer of the year, a three-run shot, to close out the scoring. Philip Wetherell closed out the first game with two scoreless innings. Chris Jensen (5-2), who started the game on Tuesday, took the loss for the Tourists.
The 19 runs the RiverDogs put up in the first game is the most they've scored in a game since May 21, 2008 when they scored 20 and the 21 hits they piled up is their highest output since they had 22 hits on June 16, 2010.
Game two, which was a seven inning contest, started off with two scoreless innings, but in the third, Ali Castillo (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, run) broke the tie with his first homer of the year to put Charleston up 1-0 against starter Daniel Winkler (7-2). Three more runs in the fourth made the score 4-0 as Reymond Nunez hit an RBI single and Castillo drove in two more with a triple.
After being held hitless in the first three innings, Asheville's offense exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth and took their first lead all day. A walk and a single began the inning against starter Evan Rutckyj (1-2) and, with one out, another walk loaded the bases. Tyler Massey singled to score one run and David Kandilas doubled to plate two more. Tyler Featherston (2-3, 3 RBI, 2 runs) then tripled, scoring two runs and putting Asheville ahead 5-4. Back-to-back homers by Delta Cleary (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, run) and Story added three more to finish off the rally. The Tourists scored two more times in the 5th on an RBI double by Featherston and an RBI single by Brian Humphries.
The RiverDogs did get a solo homer from Gumbs in the bottom of the sixth, but were unable to muster any more offense, as pitcher Kenneth Roberts got the last six outs in Asheville's 10-5 win.
The RiverDogs now head to Greenville for a four game series with the Drive beginning on Thursday night at 7:05 pm. Charleston will start RHP Wilton Rodriguez (1-2, 7.29 ERA) against Greenville's RHP Jason Garcia (1-2, 6.10 ERA).