Jaron Long pitched a two-hitter with a career-high nine strikeouts to lead the Charleston RiverDogs to a 3-0 shutout win against the Greenville Drive to sweep a Tuesday doubleheader in front of 3,327 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action. Caleb Smith and Tyler Wade led the RiverDogs to a 4-2 triumph in game one.
The RiverDogs are now 27-24 and leap over the 25-25 Drive to take third place in the Southern Division. Charleston also leads this four-game series by a 2-1 margin. Long has not allowed a run in four total starts and has been scoreless in his last 22.2 consecutive innings pitched overall. This is the eight-best streak by a RiverDog in the past decade.
In game two, Charleston’s offense worked quickly to give Long a 3-0 lead in the nightcap. Michael O’Neill and Wade reached on first-inning walks from Myles Smith and scored on a double from Mike Ford. In the second inning, Jose Rosario received a leadoff walk and would score later in the frame during a groundout by O’Neill.
Long allowed just two singles in a seven-inning complete game with a personal-best nine strikeouts. He even picked up four strikeouts during the fifth inning when he escaped a situation with runners on the corners to keep the shutout intact.
In his first win as a starting pitcher, Long is now 3-1 overall this season. Smith fell to 1-3 as he was charged with the loss.
Caleb Smith started the opener and received a four-run cushion. In the bottom of the third inning, Wade’s two-run single against Daniel McGrath provided Charleston with a 2-0 lead. Aaron Judge increased the lead to 3-0 on a groundout that scored O’Neill. During the fifth, Brandon Thomas was hit by a pitch, stole second base, and scored after another single by Wade.
Greenville only managed a pair of runs off Smith in the sixth inning. Jantzen Witte and Carlos Asuaje each drove in a run with back-to-back doubles, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Smith finished his 5.1 innings pitched with only those two runs allowed before Cesar Vargas relieved him and retired all five batters he faced to close game one.
By earning the victory, Smith improves to 4-3. McGrath took the loss and is 1-2. Vargas picked up his third save of the season.
BALLPARK FUN: The RiverDogs celebrated Re-Opening Night with a grand pregame parade with player arrivals on horse-drawn carriages. Charlie T. RiverDog joined the fun when a helicopter dropped him off in the middle of center field prior to the twin bill. Also as a part of Re-Opening Night, the night ended with a rare Tuesday fireworks display to make up for the rainout on the original Opening Night that was scheduled for Monday, April 7.
COMING UP: The fourth and final game of this series will be at 7:05pm on Wednesday, featuring RiverDogs RHP Brady Lail (7-1, 3.14 ERA) and Drive RHP Joe Gunkel (1-0, 1.29 ERA). Firefighters Night, presented by ServiceMaster, will be celebrated as firefighters look to raise money for the MUSC Children’s Hospital Burned Children’s Fund. MeTV sponsors HealthSouth Senior Wednesday, and it will also be Guaranteed Wins-Day as Charleston and Greenville continue The Battle of the Palmetto State Rivalry Series, presented by Spinx. 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.