Ryan McIntyre homered and drove in three runs for the Greensboro Grasshoppers as they edged the Charleston RiverDogs 5-4 on Saturday night in South Atlantic League action at NewBridge Bank Park with 7,631 in attendance.
The RiverDogs are now 39-27 this season and will be trying to salvage a series split with a win tomorrow as both teams close out the first half of the SAL season. The Grasshoppers record improved to 45-24 and they clinched the Northern Division first half title with the win.
In the second inning, Greensboro took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run. After James Wooster (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 runs) singled, a two-out grounder took a tough hop and just eluded the grasp of Cito Culver at shortstop for an error. McIntyre (2-4, HR, 3 RBIs) followed by blooping a single into center field to score Wooster.
Gary Sanchez (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs) tied the score in the fourth with a long home run over the right field wall, his twelfth of the season, but the Grasshoppers responded with a power display of their own. Wooster started the onslaught when he cranked one over the right field wall to start the inning, his seventh in 2012. Wilfredo Gimenez followed suit two batters later, locking in on one and blasting it out to center for his first homer of the year and McIntyre then hit a bullet line drive that just cleared the wall in right for his fourth homer and the third of the inning for Greensboro.
The RiverDogs re-tied the game in the sixth when they put together a two-out rally. Tyler Austin started things with a double and he scored on a single by Sanchez. Angelo Gumbs singled and Casey Stevenson did the same, scoring Sanchez. Later in the inning, while Stevenson was trying to steal second, Gumbs scored before Stevenson could be tagged out, tying the game at four. The four runs that Charleston scored were especially impressive considering they were facing highly touted pitcher Jose Fernandez (7-0), who hadn't allowed a run in his last 24 innings coming into today. In eight innings, Fernandez allowed four runs on eight hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
Unfortunately, Charleston couldn't keep the game tied. Greensboro took advantage of another error in the sixth, when Terrence Dayleg reached to start the inning. A Gimenez single off reliever Brett Gerritse (1-2) moved him to third and he scored on a force out to make the score 5-4. The score stayed that way into the ninth when the RiverDogs put two men on with one out, but couldn't push a run across against reliever Gregory Nappo, who saved his second game of the year.
Charleston and Greensboro will the play the final game of their series and the final game of the first half of the season tomorrow with the first pitch at 4:00pm. Greensboro is starting RHP Josh Hodges (4-4, 3.41 ERA), while the Charleston starter is TBD.