In a 1-1 ballgame that stayed even for five straight innings, RiverDogs pitching blinked first as the Asheville Tourists pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-out balk to take a 2-1 victory over Charleston on Tuesday in front of a July 4th sellout crowd at McCormick Field.
Both teams swapped single tallies in the second inning before both pitching staffs clamped down in a tense opening affair of the three-game series. Charleston (42-40, 8-4) starter Nick Nelson pitched around several jams, walking a career-high tying five batters while adding five strikeouts, but with just one run allowed. David Sosebee (L, 2-2) was particularly impressive, settling in after his first pitch of the ballgame was hammered off the right field wall by Jacob Bosiokovic to put runners at second and third with one out. The former Georgia Bulldog forced the next two runners to ground out to end the threat, and faced the minimum over the next two frames.
Sosebee ran into trouble in the eighth when he walked second baseman Max George with two outs, and was charged with a balk to move the runner into scoring position. After striking out catcher Brian Serven looking, he was lifted for righty Garrett Mundell after throwing 48 pitches on the evening. With the new pitcher on the hill, George swiped third to put the go-ahead run just 90 feet away. On the next play, Mundell appeared to have gotten the swing-and-miss from left fielder Ben Johnson to end the threat, but the second balk of the inning was ruled, and George instead crossed the plate to give Asheville (36-45, 7-6) their first lead.
Charleston drew first blood in the second. Catcher Donny Sands and first baseman Brandon Wagner roped consecutive singles to start off the frame before Mandy Alvarez flew out to deep right field in foul territory to allow the runners to tag up. Designated hitter Carlos Vidal gave Charleston the lead with a single into center, but Wagner was cut down on a throw from center fielder Manny Melendez to limit the damage to just a run.
The Tourists wasted no time tying the ballgame in the bottom half, evening the odds on a Johnson single into left-center. George and Serven each reached with two outs on a walk and a base hit to center.
Rockies first-rounder Riley Pint pitched well, but didn’t factor into the decision. The former fourth overall pick fanned five across five innings, allowing just the run with one walk, including striking out the side to end his evening in the fifth.
Reliver Bryan Baker (W, 7-2) picked up the win, turning in three scoreless innings for the Tourists with four strikeouts.
The RiverDogs continue their brief road trip in Asheville, taking on the Tourists in game two on Wednesday night at 7:05pm. Charleston will throw newcomer Rony Garcia (NR, -.--), a 19-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic, to make his first South Atlantic League start as Asheville counters with righty Erick Julio (3-8, 4.54). The game can be tuned in on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM and online streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the TuneIn Radio app under the Charleston RiverDogs station.