Charleston right-hander Nick Nelson fanned a career-high eight batters across five innings of work, but the RiverDogs offense failed to back the solid outing as Charleston was blanked 3-0 by Columbia in Wednesday’s finale at Spirit Communications Park.
Nelson (2-9) again ran up his pitch count early, but was difficult to pick up as he yielded just five hits and two runs across his five frames. The RiverDogs offense that entered play with the second highest run-scoring output in the league since the All-Star break was held to just three hits and shutout for the 11th time this season. Last-place Columbia (59-54, 18-27) handed Charleston (62-53, 28-17) just their second series loss since the break as the RiverDogs maintained at least a 3.5 game lead in the division with 24 games to play.
Catcher Ryan Lidge collected two of the RiverDogs’ three hits, all singles. All three hits came from the seven and nine spots in the order, with Chris Hess managing the only other knock off Fireflies pitching.
Nelson got into a jam in the second inning when four straight batters reached with one out, but the Floridian struck out third baseman Colby Woodmansee and Andres Gimenez back-to-back to end the inning and limit the damage to just a run. Left fielder Jay Jabs collected the RBI hit to put Columbia on the board for the second straight night.
The Fireflies made it 2-0 in the third when a one-out double by centerfielder Ian Strom eventually scored on a two-out infield hit run out by right fielder Jacob Zanon who enjoyed a 3-for-4 night.
A leadoff double by Zanon in the sixth crossed the plate on a wild pitch by reliever Austin DeCarr to finish the scoring for the evening.
The win clinched the season series for Columbia as the Mets affiliate took 11 wins over the RiverDogs to Charleston’s nine in the final meeting of the in-state foes.
The RiverDogs continue their weeklong road trip, next heading to Lexington to take on the Legends, the Class A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, starting on Thursday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark at 7:05. Charleston will send 19-year-old right-hander Rony Garcia (0-2, 1.80) seeking his first Class A win. The Legends’ starter is to be announced. The game can be tuned into on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM and online streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs’ TuneIn Radio app station.