Luis Severino recorded six shutout innings for the first time in his professional career, but the Charleston RiverDogs were on the wrong side of an 8-4 comeback victory for the Savannah Sand Gnats on Tuesday night in front of 2,455 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action.
Charleston’s record is 20-17 as this four-game series ends in a 2-2 split. Savannah jumps to 25-11 and continues to hold on to first place in the Southern Division.
The RiverDogs had four doubles in the first inning and grabbed a quick 4-0 lead. Tyler Wade started the frame with a two-base hit and scored on a one-out double from Aaron Judge. Another double by Mike Ford plated Judge for a two-run advantage. Following a single for Michael O’Neill, Miguel Andujar drove in Ford and O’Neill with a double of his own.
In perhaps the best outing of his career, Severino was solid in his third straight quality start. He allowed a bunt single to open the game, but the next 11 batters he faced made outs. Stefan Sabol walked and L.J. Mazzilli doubled to put runners in scoring position during the fourth, but Severino drew a groundout that closed the only major scoring threat that he encountered.
Savannah erased Charleston’s lead in the top of the seventh. The Sand Gnats loaded the bases with one out against Andury Acevedo and cut the gap to 4-2 on a Colton Plaia single. Patrick Biondi singled and Jorge Rivero scored when the ball got away during a play at the plate. After a strikeout, Philip Walby replaced Acevedo but the game was tied at 4-4 when Plaia scored on a wild pitch. Jeff McNeil’s go-ahead single plated Biondi and gave Savannah a 5-4 lead.
The Sand Gnats extended their lead to 8-4 with three runs in the eighth inning. Walks loaded the bases to open the frame before Cesar Vargas came in from the bullpen. A wild pitch allowed Mazzilli to score the first run of the inning. Dominic Smith scored on Rivero’s single to add to the advantage. Victor Cruzado completed the scoring later in the frame, scoring on a groundout.
Although the RiverDogs pounced on Ricky Knapp for a four-run first inning, Knapp did not allow any more runs while Tyler Vanderheiden and Robert Coles provided scoreless relief behind him.
Vanderheiden picked up the victory and is 1-0 this season. Acevedo took the loss and fell back to 1-1. Coles recorded his eighth save as Savannah improves to 11-for-11 in save attempts.
BALLPARK FUN: Apollo, a one-year-old American Bulldog that loves car rides and playing tug-of-war, was the “Puppy of the Game,” courtesy of Pet Helpers. Harris Teeter 2-for-$20 Date Night Tuesday, presented by Nash FM, offered a great deal for Lowcountry couples. The deal for couples that show their VIC card at the box office is a pair of tickets, two tacos, two fountain drinks, and a nacho tray for just $20 at Tuesday home games.
COMING UP: Charleston welcomes the Hickory Crawdads for a three-game series that starts on Wednesday at 7:05pm. RiverDogs LHP Ian Clarkin (1-0, 0.93 ERA) will start against Crawdads RHP Kelvin Vasquez (1-1, 3.64 ERA). HealthSouth Senior Wednesday, presented by MeTV, includes a free food voucher for senior citizens that arrive at The Joe by 7pm, which offers a free hot dog, bag of chips, and 16-ounce fountain drink. It is also Middle Child Awareness Night and Guaranteed Wins-Day, when the RiverDogs will win their game or all fans in attendance can use their tickets to get into the next Wednesday home game for free if the RiverDogs lose. 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.