The Charleston RiverDogs rallied from a 4-0 first inning deficit behind a pair of rallies in the seventh and eighth innings to top the Kannapolis Intimidators, 6-4, in front of a sellout crowd of 7,132 on Thursday’s home opener at Joe Riley Park.
The RiverDogs’ (4-4) seventh inning rally was headlined by catcher Eduardo Navas’ booming double to the right field corner that plated the first run of the frame and got the bats going. Center fielder Evan Alexander followed with a run-scoring single and second baseman Oswaldo Cabrera tied the game at four apiece by grounding into an RBI fielder’s choice. The rally all came with one out, starting with a 3-2 pitch taken by Leonardo Molina for a walk and a Frederick Cuevas bunt single.
In the eighth, first baseman Dalton Blaser (HBP) was held up at third on Chris Hess’ double to left before scoring on a wild pitch that gave Charleston their first lead. Molina added an insurance tally with a sac fly to left field.
Closer Matt Wivinis slammed the door for his third save in as many chances, improving to 14-for-14 in his pro career. Brian Trieglaff (1-0) turned in three shutout out of the bullpen with four strikeouts. Charleston relievers have only allowed one earned run in 26 innings to start the season.
Kannapolis (5-3) teed off Charleston starter Rony Garcia to jump out to the early advantage. Left fielder Craig Dedelow and second baseman Tate Blackman each clobbered two-run shots off the 20-year-old Dominican to drive in all of the White Sox affiliate’s runs, all coming with two men out.
The RiverDogs got on the board in the second with a pair of two-out knocks. Molina tripled into left-center and scored on Cuevas’ single into center.
Kevin Escorcia (0-1) gave up the pair of eighth inning runs and was charged with the loss.
Hess is now 10-for-27 (.370) at the plate to start the season with Charleston.
The Charleston RiverDogs celebrated the home start of the their 25th season in team history, welcoming Mayor Tecklenburg to play the national anthem on piano. Jim Franklin and Beck Wells, battery mates during the inaugural season of RiverDogs baseball in 1994, were also on hand for a ceremonial first pitch.
Charleston continues their opening homestand on Friday night against Kannapolis. Charleston will send righty Nick Nelson (0-1, 37.80) making his second start. The Intimidators starter is TBD. Friday’s contest will be broadcast on WTMA 1250 AM, online streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio app, and on MiLB.tv