Designated hitter Dermis Garcia cranked his seventh homer of the season to break up a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and lift the RiverDogs to a 2-0 victory over Hickory, cutting the magic number to clinch the second-half down to one on Wednesday evening at Joe Riley Park.
A crowd of 3.411 fans looked on, eclipsing the 300,000-attendance mark on the year for the first time in the franchise’s history. A RiverDogs (74-60, 40-24) win or a Greenville loss on Thursday night would secure Charleston’s second straight playoff berth following an 11-year postseason drought.
First baseman Brandon Wagner started off the sixth with a lead-off infield single before Garcia blasted a two-out fly that sailed over the left field wall to drive in the only two runs of the game. The Yankees’ No. 22 prospect now owns 7 homers in 26 games with Charleston and 16 total in 59 games on the season between the RiverDogs and Pulaski. His seven homers in the month of August are the second most in the South Atlantic League.
Starter Nick Green had a stellar evening, but did not factor in the decision. The right-hander struck out the first three Hickory (63-72, 36-29) batters he faced and finished with a career-high tying nine punch outs through five innings of work without allowing a walk.
Christian Morris (6-2) got the win after going 2 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits and four strikeouts. Matt Wivinis finished a four-out save for his third of the season while recording two strikeouts. By retiring four in a row, the Illinois native extended his stretch of zero earned runs allowed to 8 1/3 innings, a span where he has allowed just two hits since joining Charleston. All total, the RiverDogs pitching staff recorded 15 strikeouts without allowing a walk.
Hickory’s starter A.J. Alexy was just as dangerous as Green, going five innings with just one hit and eight strikeouts, but walked four batters.
Kaleb Fontenot (5-4) took the loss after surrendering Garcia’s homer in the sixth.
A grand total of 300,085 fans have now passed through the Riley Park turnstiles this year with one regular season home game remaining.
The RiverDogs wrap up the series Thursday evening at 7:05 with a chance to clinch with a win. Charleston’s ace, right-hander Freicer Perez (10-3, 2.81), will toe the rubber for the RiverDogs and Hickory will send right-hander Edgar Arredondo (6-6, 3.83). The game can be tuned into on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM and online with streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs’ TuneIn Radio app station.