For the second straight night, the Charleston RiverDogs built an early lead, and piled on from there, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after two and 11-0 after four to cruise past the Rome Braves 14-1 on Wednesday night at State Mutual Stadium.
First baseman Brandon Wagner collected a base hit to drive in two in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to career-high 11 straight as part of a three RBI night. Right fielder Isiah Gilliam also collected three RBI as designated hitter Ben Ruta went 3-for-5 to lead Charleston’s 14-hit attack. With their second straight blowout victory in a row, the RiverDogs have now outscored the Braves 25-4 over the last two nights to take a two games to one series advantage.
Nick Nelson (1-6) turned in five shutout innings to garner his first career win, fanning five with two walks to lower his ERA to a 5.13 mark. The Panama City, Fla. native put nine career losses behind him as the RiverDogs offense that averaged just 2.8 runs per game with the former fourth round pick on the mound hung a 14-spot in support.
Charleston’s offense got off to a thundering start, rattling off three straight singles off Braves starter Jeremy Walker (3-7), including Blake Rutherford’s RBI knock to open the scoring. After Estevan Florial was hit by a pitch, Gilliam and Wagner each grounded out to drive in runs and make it 3-0 Charleston.
In the second, the RiverDogs capitalized on a two-out misplay by shortstop Marcus Mooney, one of five Rome errors on the evening, to add two unearned tallies and stretch the lead to 5-0. Florial drove one home with a single as part of a 2-for-6 performance, the 18th time in the last 21 games the Dominican teenager has collected a hit.
In the fourth, Charleston batted around to add six more, chasing Walker out of the game after 3 2/3 innings. An error again factored into the scoring explosion, as a ball dropped at second by Kevin Josephina led to four of the runs going unearned. Wagner’s first knock drove in a pair and catcher Ryan Lidge collected his first Class A hit with a two RBI single into center, helping Charleston out to an 11-0 advantage.
Two more Rome blunders in the seventh helped Charleston out to their largest lead of the night, 14-0 before stretch time.
Rome tagged reliever Matt Frawley in the seventh to get on the board. A one-out triple by Mooney scored on an RBI groundout by centerfielder Cristian Pache. Mooney’s three-bagger was just the sixth extra-base hit allowed by Charleston pitching in 63 innings since the All-Star break.
The RiverDogs wrap up their eight-game road trip with a game four finale against Rome on Thursday night at 7pm. Charleston rolls out All-Star righty Brian Keller (5-5, 3.52) to duel with left-hander and former Braves second-round pick Joey Wentz (3-3, 3.30). The game can be tuned into on WTMA 1250 AM and streaming online via the RiverDogs’ TuneIn radio station.