Miguel Andujar’s go-ahead, two-run home run in the first inning sparked the Charleston RiverDogs on their way to a 5-1 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats on Thursday evening in front of 5,479 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in South Atlantic League action.
The RiverDogs snap an eight-game losing streak and improve to 28-32. The Sand Gnats are now 38-19 while continuing to hold first place in the Southern Division.
Savannah opened the scoring in the top of the first. Jeff McNeil’s two-out single against Ian Clarkin kept the inning alive. McNeil advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored after an L.J. Mazzilli single.
Andujar pushed the RiverDogs in front 2-1 during the home half of the opening inning. Jose Rosario was hit by a pitch from Miller Diaz before Andujar came to the plate. Andujar hit a go-ahead blast to left-center field for his fourth home run of the season.
Charleston would score five unanswered runs, starting with Andujar’s home run. In the bottom of the fifth, Dustin Fowler received a leadoff walk and reached second on a balk. After moving to third on a groundout, Fowler scored during a wild pitch to give the RiverDogs a 3-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, the RiverDogs increased their advantage to 5-1. With one out, Rosario walked and Andujar singled to put two runners on base. Mike Ford followed with a double to right field to score Rosario while Andujar came in during a throwing error on the play.
Clarkin held the Sand Gnats scoreless in his final four innings pitched. He also retired the final seven batters that he faced. Angel Rincon relieved Clarkin and tossed three shutout innings. Rincon had his first batter reach on an error before setting down the next nine batters in a row.
The Sand Gnats attempted a comeback during the ninth inning. Rincon allowed a single to L.J. Mazzilli, who advanced to third base on a two-base error that allowed Dominic Smith to get to second base. Rincon struck out Amed Rosario before he was replaced by Philip Walby. After a strikeout and a walk that loaded the bases, Walby induced a ground ball that produced a game-ending force out.
Clarkin earned the victory and is 2-3 this season. Miller Diaz was tagged with his first loss, dropping to 5-1. Walby picked up his second save.
Also on Thursday, The New York Yankees have announced that Charleston RiverDogs right-handed pitchers Jaron Long and Chris Smith have been promoted to the Single-A Tampa Yankees. Long leaves the RiverDogs as the South Atlantic League leader in earned run average while Smith had a strong start to his debut in affiliated baseball.
In a pair of corresponding moves, Charleston receives left-handed pitchers Evan Rutckyj and Chaz Hebert from Tampa. The RiverDogs will maintain their maximum of 25 active players.
Long, a non-drafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2013, currently tops the Sally League with a 1.64 earned run average and also shares the league lead with one shutout. Long owns a 3-1 record for Charleston and recently recorded a streak of 22.2 consecutive scoreless innings.
Smith joined the Yankees in 2013 after playing in Australia for the Pine Hills Lightning and the Brisbane Bandits. The Louisville, KY native won his affiliated baseball debut on May 12 and earned a save on May 16 in a doubleheader opener. Smith has 1-1 record with a 4.50 ERA.
Rutckyj and Hebert, a pair of southpaws, are added to Charleston roster. This is the third season that Rutckyj has been a member of the RiverDogs, featuring his team-high ten wins in 2013 for Charleston. This season, Rutckyj has one win over 12 relief appearances with Tampa. Hebert went 0-2 in three Tampa starts to begin this season and joins the RiverDogs for the first time.??