The Charleston RiverDogs scored eight times in the ninth inning to emerge victorious 8-2 over the Asheville Tourists in one of Charleston's wildest games of the year at McCormick Field in Asheville in South Atlantic League play.
With the comeback win, the RiverDogs improve to 31-31 in the second half and 70-60 overall. The Tourists fall to 23-38 in second half play and 61-68 overall with the victory. The series is tied at 1-1 with the finale coming up on Sunday.
Trailing 2-0 heading to the ninth inning, it looked like Charleston was going to come up short on Saturday on a beautiful night in the mountains. However, that was not the case.
Asheville righty Raul Fernandez had a night he hopes to soon forget. Daniel Aldrich led off the ninth with a single against Fernandez, then Ty Afenir reached on a bunt single, and Jake Cave walked to load the bases with nobody out. Jackson Valera came through for the Dogs and lined a single into right field to plate Aldrich and Afenir and tie the game at 2-2.
The next batter Greg Bird walked to reload the bases with nobody out, and Jose Rosario lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Cave and give Charleston a 3-2 advantage, their first lead of the game. The RiverDogs were nowhere near done.
Following a pop out to second by Ericson Leonora, a weak grounder towards shortstop resulted in an RBI infield single for Reymond Nunez, and then a base hit by Fu-Lin Kuo plated another to put Charleston up 5-2.
The man who began the inning with a single Daniel Aldrich then stepped up to the plate, and the former College of Charleston Cougar launched his first home run as a professional, a three run blast over the right field wall to complete the miraculous comeback and give the RiverDogs the 8-2 lead.
Finally, Fernandez was removed from the game. The righty reliever recorded just two outs and gave up eight runs on six hits, two walks, and a homer. His ERA rose from 4.70 to 6.89 on the year. He earned the loss to fall to 2-2.
Brett Gerritse was very good for Charleston spinning six solid innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits and recorded six strikeouts. Lefty Tyler Webb retired all nine men he faced and fanned six en route to the win to improve to 3-1.
Offensively, the RiverDogs were paced by Aldrich (2-5, two runs, three RBI), and they also got multi-hit games from Reymond Nunez, Jackson Valera, Jake Cave and Greg Bird.
Asheville got a fantastic start from T.J. Oakes, but he didn't factor in the decision. Oakes shut down the Charleston offense with six scoreless, six hit innings.
COMING UP: The rubber match of this three game series is Sunday afternoon at McCormick Field in Asheville at 2:05. Charleston will send out RHP Luis Niebla (4-6, 4.76 ERA) and the Tourists will counter with RHP Ben Hughes (8-10, 5.75 ERA) in the series finale. Fans can listen to the game live locally on ESPN Radio 910AM or online at www.riverdogs.com.