Third baseman Chris Hess launched his fifth home run of the season to break up a scoreless tie in the sixth but the Greensboro Grasshoppers would hang on to win their second straight one-run contest, 2-1, as the RiverDogs dropped their third in a row on Friday night at First National Bank Field.
The RiverDogs’ (6-9) offense that came into play last in the league in hitting and runs scored once again leaned heavily on the Rhode Island slugger as Hess has now driven in 10 of Charleston’s league-low 44 runs. It continues the hot start of the season for the corner infielder who matched Lexington’s Seuly Matias for the league-lead in home runs.
Charleston had a golden opportunity to at least tie the game in the eighth after centerfielder Ricardo Ferreira and shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera reached on back-to-back singles to open the frame. With a 3-2 count and Steven Sensley at the plate, the Grasshoppers turned a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play to nab Cabrera at second and catch Sensley looking before striking out Hess on three pitches to end the threat.
Greensboro (9-5) scored both of their runs in the sixth inning, getting to Charleston starter Dalton Lehnen (1-1). With one out, left fielder Aaron Knapp clubbed a triple to dead-center and scored on a line drive single to right by former Yankees farmhand Jose Devers, one of two prospects dealt to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton blockbuster deal this offseason. Following walk to Micah Brown and a double steal, Devers scored on a wild pitch by Lehnen to give Greensboro the lead.
The lack of offense spoiled an excellent outing for Lehnen, who shattered his career-high with 10 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. He filled up the zone with 93 pitches, including 66 for strikes, and just one walk.
Right-hander Taylor Braley (1-1) turned in the second straight dominant performance from a Greensboro starter, fanning nine in seven innings of one-run ball to pick up the win.
The game took only 2 hours and 8 minutes to play, overtaking Thursday night’s 2:17 affair as the quickest ballgame of the year for the RiverDogs.
Charleston continues the four-game set against Greensboro on Saturday night from First National Bank Park. Former Citadel lefty JP Sears (0-1, 2.25) gets the rock for the RiverDogs in his first start of the season. The Grasshoppers will counter with right-hander and Marlins No. 12 prospect Edward Cabrera (0-1, 0.82). The broadcast is available on 1250 WTMA in the tri-county area and begins with “Saturday Dog Talk” pregame starting at 6:30. Audio is also available on riverdogs.com and through the RiverDogs TuneIn radio app. First pitch is at 7 p.m.