Right-hander Nick Nelson allowed a first inning run but went on to strikeout a career-high 12 Kannapolis batters as the Charleston RiverDogs bested the Intimidators, 2-1, in front of a crowd of 4,373 on Friday night at Joe Riley Park.
Nelson entered the contest having never struck out more than eight in a game, but the RiverDogs (5-4) righty matched his personal best early by recording his first eight outs all via the punchout. The Florida native had command issues early, walking two and giving up a pair of hits, one of which led to the lone Kannapolis (5-4) run. Nelson responded by allowing just one baserunner through his final 4 2/3 innings.
Charleston played from behind after one half inning for the second straight night but scored its first run in the home half of the sixth. Right fielder Steven Sensley was plated on a Chris Hess single chopped over the drawn in infield to tie the game at one.
In Sensley’s eighth inning trip to the plate, he launched the first pitch from Kevin Escorcia (0-2) to the opposite field, over the left centerfield fence for a solo home run to push the Holy City in front for what would go on to be the difference-maker. Escorcia was handed his second loss in as many nights out of the bullpen in Charleston. Sensley finished the night 3-for-3, including the game-winning home run, his second long ball of the year.
The strikeout clinic didn’t end with Nelson, as Kyle Zurak (1-0) struck out three in his three scoreless innings of work while claiming his first win. Luis Cedeno earned his first save with a perfect ninth inning, striking out a batter of his own. Altogether, Charleston hurlers totaled 16 strikeouts, a season best. The Charleston bullpen has allowed just one earned run in 30 innings to begin the season.
The Charleston RiverDogs showcased the best of Broadway with “the Music of Musicals,” and created a pitch perfect harmony by belting these popular showtunes during the first Home Telecom Fireworks show of the season. The lineup included popular hits from Hamilton, West Side Story, Mama Mia, and many more classic stage shows.
Game three of this four-game weekend series will continue on Saturday against Kannapolis. RiverDogs southpaw Dalton Lehnen (1-0, 1.50) will take the ball for the second time in the young campaign. The Intimidators will send righty Parker Rigler (0-0, 1.80). Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on WTMA 1250 AM with the “Saturday Dog Talk” pregame show beginning at 5:30, online streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio app, and on MiLB.tv.