It was the Charleston RiverDogs (14-12) turn to jump out to an early lead and never look back as they took game three against the Lakewood BlueClaws (9-18) 6-0 Friday evening at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, New Jersey.
The RiverDogs attacked Lakewood starter Josh Warner (1-3) from the very first batter of the game. Jake Cave drew a leadoff walk and then Cito Culver came to the plate and crushed his third homer of the season to give Charleston an early 2-0 lead. A few batters later, catcher Peter O'Brien reached base on one of his two doubles on the evening. Yeicok Calderon drew a walk and then Reymond Nunez blasted a single to score O'Brien from second. Taylor Dugas came to the plate and pitcher Josh Warner balked in Calderon. Following the balk, Dugas came up with an RBI single scoring Nunez for the fifth and final run of the inning.
Charleston added one more run on a Greg Bird RBI single scoring Claudio Custodio in the ninth-inning. Nunez extended his hitting streak to four games by leading the RiverDogs going 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and a run scored. Shortstop Cito Culver went 3-for-5 at the plate with two singles and a two-run homer.
RiverDogs starter Rafael De Paula (2-2) picked up his second win in as many chances Friday evening. De Paula struckout seven in his five shutout innings of work while he scattered four hits. De Paula now has a league high 46 strikeouts on the year. Reliever Alex Smith and Charlie Short came in and each worked two innings of shutout ball.
The BlueClaws struggled all game Friday after outscoring the RiverDogs 10-to-3 in the first two games of this series. Starter Josh Warner lasted only one inning as he allowed five runs on four hits and he walked three. Offensively the BlueClaws were led by their eight and nine hitters who reached base four out of the seven times they came to the plate.
The RiverDogs begin their trek south as they stop in Delmarva for a four-game set before coming home. Game one against the Shorebirds is scheduled for 7:05pm Saturday. Charleston sends RHP Gabe Encinas (3-0, 0.31 ERA) to the mound, as Delmarva counters with fellow RHP Peter Bridwell (2-2, 5.11 ERA). You can listen to the game locally on ESPN Radio 910 AM or online at www.riverdogs.com.