Centerfielder Estevan Florial clubbed a go-ahead solo home run with two outs in the top of the eighth inning as the RiverDogs and Greenville broke open a scoreless tie to combine for seven runs over the final 3 ½ innings in a 4-3 victory for Charleston on Friday night at Fluor Field.
Florial’s longball was the 19-year-old Dominican’s team-leading ninth of the season, and put the RiverDogs (36-36, 2-0) ahead after the Drive’s shortstop Santiago Espinal roped a two-run shot to left-center to tie the ballgame in the seventh. Florial is now just one home run shy of becoming the first RiverDog to collect double digit home runs and stolen bases in a season since 2011 when Ramon Flores became the 27th in Charleston’s franchise history, collecting 11 each in 125 games.
The game stayed scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth inning until Greenville (41-30, 0-2) opened the scoring. Reliever Matt Frawley gave up two infield singles and another runner reached on an error to load up the bases before the former Purdue man walked third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus on four pitches to bring in the first run of the game, and make it 1-0 Drive.
The RiverDogs plated three in the seventh to respond quickly and take a 3-1 advantage. Florial walked to lead off the frame. Mandy Alvarez lined out sharply to left before designated hitter Ben Ruta singled into left field. Diego Castillo followed by striking out facing righty Harrison Cooney (0-1), but the pitch got away from catcher Roldani Baldwin on a wild pitch that allowed both runners to move up. With two outs, catcher Keith Skinner collected his first Class A hit with a two-run single to right field to give Charleston the lead. Hoy Jun Park roped a triple into the right-center field gap to score Skinner to cap the three-run inning.
Charleston starter Nick Nelson tossed 72 pitches to get through four innings and did not factor into the decision. The Florida native fanned four and walked one in his first start following the All-Star break.
The RiverDogs used four different relievers to get through the rest of the game. Christian Morris (3-1) vultured the win after giving up the game-tying two-run homer in the seventh. David Sosebee worked a scoreless eighth and ninth to pick up his second save of the year.
-per Charleston RiverDogs