Josh Hodges pitched eight excellent innings for the Greensboro Grasshoppers and led them to a 4-2 victory over the Charleston RiverDogs in the final game of the first half of the South Atlantic League season at NewBridge Bank Park on Sunday afternoon with a crowd of 5,028 on hand.
The RiverDogs finished the first half of the season at 39-28 and in third place in the SAL Southern Division. Greensboro, who clinched the first half Northern Division title yesterday, closes out the first half with a record of 46-24.
For the first three innings, Charleston starter Matt Bashore (0-1) matched zeros with Hodges, but he faltered in the fourth, allowing Greensboro to take the lead. Austin Barnes (2-3, run) led off the inning with a single and when Brent Keys lofted one into the right field corner for a double, Barnes came all the way around to score the game's first run. The Grasshoppers could've had more in the inning, but a fantastic barehand pickup and throw to first by Dante Bichette, Jr. on a slow roller just beat the runner to end the inning and strand two. The RiverDogs defense came up big again in the fifth when Mason Williams gunned down Rand Smith at the plate for the final out of the frame.
Hodges (5-4) needed no such help, as he was razor sharp in eight innings of work. The right-hander allowed seven hits, two runs and walked no one while facing the minimum eighteen batters through the first six innings. He also totaled five strikeouts.
Greensboro's Terrence Dayleg provided his pitcher with some more run support in the sixth. With a man on and two out, he hit a long fly that cleared the wall in right for his third homer of the season and increased the lead to 3-0. The RiverDogs tried to answer in the seventh, but after putting two men on with one out, Hodges retired the next two hitters to escape the inning unscathed.
In the eighth, Angelo Gumbs finally got something started for Charleston with a lead-off double. Reymond Nunez (1-3, RBI, run) then traded places with Gumbs at second, driving a double of his own off the right field wall to pick up an RBI. After Nunez moved to third, Cody Grice was able to put the ball in play, bringing in a run on a groundout to cut the deficit to one, but the RiverDogs would get no closer. Ryan Rieger (2-4, HR, RBI, run) added some insurance for the Grasshoppers in the bottom of the eighth on a solo home run, his fourth, and Brad Mincey earned his third save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
The RiverDogs will have the next three days off as will the rest of the SAL for the All-Star Break. The 53rd annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game, presented by General Dynamics Land Systems Force Protection Industries, Inc. and the Charleston Restaurant Association, will take place at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston on Tuesday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:35 pm. Charleston will begin the second half in Greenville against the Drive on June 21 with the start time at 7:05 pm.