Michael O’Neill hit his second home run of the season and did much more in an 11-3 victory for the Charleston RiverDogs against the Greenville Drive on Monday evening at Fluor Field at the West End in South Atlantic League action. All nine batters in the starting lineup for Charleston had at least one base hit in the contest.
The RiverDogs are 4-7 this season after winning the series opener in Greenville, snapping a five-game losing streak in the process. The Drive fall back to 7-4 as its five-game winning streak was ended.
Charleston’s Rookie Davis and Greenville’s Cody Kukuk kept the game scoreless and hitless through the first two innings. Kukuk struck out four in those opening frames while Davis retired all six batters that he faced. O’Neill had a diving catch in support of Davis in the second inning.
The RiverDogs opened the scoring in the top of the third before the Drive tied the game an inning later. Abiatal Avelino lined a two-out single into center field and scored from first on a double by Brandon Thomas for a 1-0 Charleston lead. The Drive answered in the fourth with a one-out triple from Jake Romanski, who scored the tying run on a Jantzen Witte sacrifice fly.
A two-run outburst in the top of the sixth put the RiverDogs back in front by a 3-1 margin. Aaron Judge walked with one out and reached third base after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Following a Mike Ford walk, Judge scored on a single by Miguel Andujar. Ford would come in following a groundout and a wild pitch to give Charleston a two-run advantage.
Greenville cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth. Zach Kapstein led off the inning and worked his way to third base on a pair of groundouts. A wild pitch brought Kapstein in, slicing the RiverDogs lead to 3-2. Andy Beresford replaced Rookie Davis with two on and two out, ending the frame with a groundout that held Charleston in front.
The RiverDogs responded immediately, expanding their lead in the seventh inning. Charleston loaded the bases for Judge, who scored Luis Torrens and Gosuke Katoh with a single for a 5-2 edge. Judge scored from second on a Mike Ford single to put the RiverDogs up 6-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Drive could only muster one run to try and stay with the RiverDogs. Charleston reliever Nick Rumbelow entered a one-out, bases-loaded jam and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Bo Greenwell to trim the RiverDogs lead to three. An inning-ending strikeout by Rumbelow prevented Greenville from committing any further damage.
Charleston added to the advantage with two solo home runs in the eighth and three more runs in the ninth to finish the scoring. O’Neill and Torrens hit homers to build an 8-3 advantage entering the final frame. In the ninth, Andujar tripled to score Judge and Ford before coming in himself after an O’Neill single.
Davis improved to 2-0 after the victory, pitching a career-high 5.2 innings for the RiverDogs. Greenville reliever Jacob Dahlstrand took the loss and fell to 1-1 this season.
COMING UP: Game two of this three-game series features RiverDogs RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 5.79 ERA) squaring off with Drive RHP Jamie Callahan (0-1, 5.19 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm. After the road series, Charleston will return to the Lowcountry and host a three-game set against the Rome Braves that starts on Thursday, April 17 at 7:05pm at The Joe. Thursday’s homestand opener will be another Budweiser Thirsty Thursday presented by 95SX, complete with DJ Natty Heavy, $1 drafts, and a Wild Wing Café wing-eating contest in the Ashley View Pub. The Dunder Chiefs will perform a postgame concert adjacent to the Beer Garden thanks to Palmetto Brewery and Awendaw Green. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away worldwide on www.riverdogs.com and locally on 1250 WTMA, the new radio home for RiverDogs baseball.