Center fielder Estevan Florial ripped an opening inning grand slam, and Charleston needed every run from their early cushion to hang on against the Asheville Tourists to win it 10-9 in a 10-inning slugfest at McCormick Field on Wednesday night.
In a game that featured five home runs, Florial’s team-leading 11th longball of the season and the first RiverDogs grand slam of the year put Charleston (43-40, 9-4) out to an early 4-0 advantage. The RiverDogs used eight hits in the opening frame to put up a seven spot before collecting just seven more hits the rest of the way. Asheville (36-46, 7-7) clubbed three home runs to help them back into the game, capped off by a two-out, two strike blast by first baseman Taylor Snyder for his second homer of the contest that pulled the game even in the ninth.
After giving up a seven-run lead, Charleston answered back in the extra frame. Right fielder Blake Rutherford smashed a double to left to open the 10th and catcher Donny Sands followed two batters later with a single to put runners at the corners. Left fielder Isiah Gilliam plated the go-ahead run with a sac fly to left.
Garrett Mundell worked a perfect bottom of the 10th inning with a pair of punch outs to record his ninth save of the season. The win puts Charleston two games ahead of Lexington in the Southern Division second half standings. The 32 combined hits were the most in a game for the Charleston club this season.
With Charleston leading 7-0 after the first half inning, right fielder Willie Abreu put Asheville on the board with a two-run bomb to right, his eighth of the season as part of a 4-for-6 night, to make it 7-2.
Sands gave the RiverDogs another seven-run cushion after crushing an Erick Julio offering to right-center to stretch Charleston’s lead to 9-2.
Following Sands’ home run, Asheville pitching clamped down, allowing just two hits over the next seven innings. Julio coughed up nine runs, all earned, in just two innings, but finished out 5 1/3 frames before being bailed out by his offense for a no-decision.
The Tourists collected back-to-back doubles in the fifth by centerfielder Manny Melendez and shortstop Jose Gomez to trim the deficit to 9-3.
Snyder roped his first home run with a two-run fly in the sixth after Max George singled, making it 9-5.
Asheville plated three in the seventh, capped off by George’s one-out double that pulled the Tourists within a run. Third baseman Mandy Alvarez made a superb diving stop to retire catcher Brian Serven and keep the tying run stranded at third.
Right-hander Luis Cedeno (1-0) gave up the game-tying blast in the ninth, and was charged with a blown save and the win. Righty Kenny Oakley (2-3) worked the final three innings for Asheville, yielding the go-ahead run on four hits with a pair of strikeouts to take the loss.
The RiverDogs take on Asheville in the rubber match of the three-game series on Thursday night at 7:05pm. Charleston will send right-hander Austin DeCarr (1-0, 3.24) to face Tourists righty Antonio Santos (3-8, 5.16). 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.