The RiverDogs rallied to tie the ballgame in the eighth inning with Brandon Wagner’s sac fly to deep right center, but Ryan Scott hammered a pinch-hit, leadoff home run to right field in the ninth inning to dash Charleston’s comeback hopes in a 3-2 walk-off victory for the Drive on Saturday night at Fluor Field.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the RiverDogs (57-47, 23-11) who remain in first-place by 3.5 games over Asheville with the best record in the league over the second half.
Oswaldo Cabrera starred in the losing effort for the RiverDogs; the 18-year-old Venezuelan went 2-for-4 including a leadoff double in the eighth that became the game tying run and dazzled with three great plays in the field at second base. It was Cabrera’s first multi-hit performance since returning to the RiverDogs from Staten Island on July 21.
The RiverDogs took a lead right away to open the ballgame when shortstop Diego Castillo and Cabrera each reached on back-to-back singles. With Estevan Florial at the plate and one out, the Venezuelan teenagers both executed a double steal to perfection, forcing an errant throw from catcher Isias Lucena that allowed Castillo to score and make it 1-0 RiverDogs.
Greenville (57-46, 16-18) took the lead in the third inning. Designated hitter Grainger Studdard doubled to right field and left fielder Steven Reveles hustled out an infield single to put runners at first and second. After a wild pitch moved Studdard over, right fielder Lorenzo Cedrola brought one home with a single to center field. After a sacrifice bunt, Tyler Hill grounded out to second to give the Drive their first lead of the series at 2-1.
Charleston starter Rony Garcia battled throughout the evening, turning in 5 2/3 innings with two runs allowed and striking out five, but did not factor into the decision.
Lefty Jhonathan Diaz turned in a dominant outing for the Drive, matching a season-high with eight strikeouts and one unearned run allowed before exiting after rolling his ankle fielding a bunt with two outs in the sixth inning.
RiverDogs southpaw Phillip Diehl (9-3) suffered a loss giving up the pinch-hit jack. The walk-off bomb made a winner out of the Drive’s Matthew Gorst (6-3) who also was charged a blown save after giving up the lead in the eighth.
Charleston went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight baserunners stranded in the defeat.
-per Charleston RiverDogs