The RiverDogs were looking for a strong starting pitching performance and some timely hits to shake out of their early season funk. After dropping game one, 7-4, left-hander Dalton Lehnen took the ball in game two and turned in six strong innings while the RiverDogs rallied for runs in the fifth and seventh to claim their first win of the season, 2-1, over the Lexington Legends in a split of a doubleheader on Sunday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Left fielder Frederick Cuevas tied the ballgame in the fifth with a one-out double into the left-center gap to score third baseman Chris Hess, who broke up a streak of 11 in a row retired by lefty starter Daniel Tillo with a single just prior. In the seventh, it was Hess who would again cross the plate, this time to give the RiverDogs (1-3) the lead for good, when he slid under the tag by catcher Sebastian Rivero on a ground ball put into play by David Metzgar.
Lehnen (1-0) shook off a rocky start, retiring 13 in a row at one point after yielding a one-out home run and a triple two batters later in the opening frame. Lexington right fielder Travis Jones went deep for the first time on a fly ball to right that put the Legends in front, 1-0. The Charleston southpaw finished with five strikeouts, no walks, and just a run allowed in the first quality start turned in by the rotation this year.
In his season debut, Matt Wivinis set down the side 1-2-3 with a pair of K’s to improve to 12-for-12 on save opportunities in his career, and a perfect 13-for-13 counting a playoff chance with the RiverDogs last year.
In game one, Charleston took a lead in the first inning for the third consecutive game, a 3-0 advantage helped out by a pair of Lexington errors, before the Legends (3-1) batted around in the second for seven runs to take an insurmountable lead.
Nick Nelson (0-1), the Yankees No. 28 prospect, was chased after recording just five outs to suffer the loss.
The Charleston bullpen extended their scoreless innings streak to nine after Kyle Zurak, Luis Cedeno, and Wivinis all posted zeroes in the two games.
Charleston continues to Rome, Ga for the second stop in their opening week road trip, taking on the Braves on Monday night at 7 p.m at State Mutual Stadium. Right-hander Daniel Ramos makes his official season debut after pitching five shutout for the RiverDogs on Tuesday in an exhibition contest at The Joe. Rome will counter with righty Alan Rangel (0-0, 0.00), who makes his first start and second appearance of the year. After the three-game tilt, the Dogs return home for their home opener on April 12 at The Joe.