The RiverDogs’ struggles with the Fireflies continued as Charleston dropped the series opener and their sixth straight against surging Columbia on Friday night at Joe Riley Park in front of a sellout crowd of 7,257.
Charleston (32-36) is now just 1-7 against the Mets affiliate this season and 0-3 against Columbia ace Jordan Humphreys (10-1) who collected his league leading tenth win of the season and lowered his SAL-low ERA to a 1.42 mark. The Fireflies (40-26) improved to 13-3 in the month of June as they maintained their half game lead on the Greenville Drive with two games left to play in the first half.
The RiverDogs (32-36) took a 1-0 lead in the second as Charleston grinded against the tough righty early. First baseman Brandon Wagner led off the second with a double then advanced to third on a ground out from designated hitter Alex Palma. Left fielder Ben Ruta brought in Wagner from third with his ninth RBI from a single to center.
Columbia (39-26) started to rattle RiverDogs starter Nick Nelson (0-6, 6.34) in the third as they tied the ballgame. Catcher Brandon Brosher and designated hitter Tim Tebow hit back-to-back singles before shortstop Milton Ramos collected a base knock to score Brosher. Nelson got a soft line out to first from Luis Carpio and a got Coastal Carolina product Michael Paez to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to avert further damage.
After leaving runners stranded in the third, the Fireflies broke it open in the fourth. After getting the first out, Nelson put the next two batters he faced on with a single and a hit by pitch. With first and second occupied, Brosher clubbed a three-run homer to right field making 4-1 Columbia.
Austin DeCarr took the reins from Nelson following the homer and quieted Columbia's bats through 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and four strikeouts. Trevor Lane capped off the ninth.
Nelson took the loss after going just 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out just one.
Ruta and Mandy Alvarez each collected a pair of hits for Charleston in the loss.
The RiverDogs welcomed Tim Tebow for the first time this season as 7,257 fans turned out for Tebow Mania. Fans enjoyed postgame Home Telecom fireworks extravaganza in partnership with Mix 96 and Live 5 News.
Charleston will play game two against Columbia tomorrow night at 6:05. The RiverDogs will send to the hill right hander Brian Keller (4-5, 3.97) to face left hander Thomas Szapucki (1-0, 4.35). Fans can tune into “Saturday Dog Talk” starting at 5:30pm on WTMA 1250 AM. The game will also be broadcast on MiLB.tv starting at 6.