Charleston third baseman Chris Hess roped a game-tying, solo shot in the fifth inning, but Royals No. 3 prospect Seuly Matias’ two-homer game was too much as the RiverDogs dropped Thursday night’s season opener to the Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Even on a cold opening night to the season, the ball carried well in the hitter-friendly confines in Kentucky as the Legends’ right fielder catapulted two long balls that both carried over 370 feet, a solo shot in the third and seventh apiece that each put Lexington (1-0) in front.
The RiverDogs (0-1) jumped on Lexington’s starter Nolan Watson in the first when Dalton Blaser poked an opposite field double into left to score Steven Sensley (walk) for the first RiverDogs run of the season.
After Lexington tied it up in the second and took a lead in the third, Hess, the Yankees’ 17th round pick in last year’s draft, pulled the RiverDogs even with his first professional home run, a leadoff jack that traveled 356 feet out to left-center. It was part of a 2-for-4 night for the former Rhode Island Ram.
Opening Night starter Garrett Whitlock had his swing-and-miss stuff going, using seven strikeouts to navigate around three walks and five hits in a no-decision.
Sumter native and former Citadel hurler JP Sears (0-1) made his RiverDogs debut, yielding just two hits in four innings, but one the seventh inning go-ahead shot to take the loss.
Sensley, Charleston’s right fielder, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double.
The RiverDogs look to bounce back in game two on Friday night in Lexington as they send right-hander Glenn Otto, the Yankees No. 20 prospect per MLB.com, to the hill. He will be opposed by Legends lefty Garrett Davila. After four games in Lexington and three in Rome, the Dogs return home for their home opener on April 12 at The Joe. Friday’s game will be broadcast on “The Big Talker” 1250 AM and online streaming on the RiverDogs TuneIn radio app starting at 7 p.m.