Third baseman Chris Hess delivered with a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the tenth as the Charleston RiverDogs staked their first lead, 3-2, to claim the series over the Asheville Tourists on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 4,266 at Joe Riley Park.
The walk-off single gave the RiverDogs (13-14) their second win in the three-game tilt against Asheville (8-17) and improved Charleston to 2-2 in extra inning contests this year, all played at Riley Park.
Hess’s walk-off knock was the Rhode Island product’s third hit of the game and came after Asheville elected to intentionally walk two Charleston batters in the inning after failing to score with a runner starting on second base in the top half. With Ricardo Ferreira already standing at second, second baseman Wilkerman Garcia was given an intentional pass to set up the double play ball. Shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera pounded a grounder into play on the next pitch that set up a force out at second. Then with runners at the corners, Steven Sensley was issued a pass after tying the game at two with a soaring home run his last time up to set up Hess’ heroics.
The Tourists walked away empty handed with their free runner in the top of the inning, putting on a double steal that was erased on a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play by Jason Lopez with the help of an impressive lunging tag off the bag by third baseman David Metzgar.
Citadel product JP Sears continued to shine in his second straight start as a professional back at The Joe, striking out seven across six innings with one run allowed to lower his ERA to 1.59.
Including Sears’ strong performance, Charleston starters have allowed three earned runs in 29 1/3 innings over the last five games, good for an 0.92 ERA. Going back to April 17, they have struck out 93 and walked 10 in 88 2/3 frames while notching a 1.83 ERA.
Asheville got to Sears, who walked away with a no-decision, in the third on back-to-back two-out singles. Shael Mendoza laid down a bunt to reach and advanced up on a balk by the Sumter, S.C. native, allowing the speedy centerfielder to score on a shallow single to left by third baseman Matt McLaughlin. It was then 1-0 Asheville.
The Holy City tied it with a two-out base hit of their own in the fourth. Metzgar poked an opposite field knock to score Hess, who reached previously on a hit by pitch.
The Tourists found themselves in front once again in the eighth when Charleston committed two consecutive errors with two men away to give Asheville a 2-1 advantage. Sensley roped his fourth home run of the season, a two-out, solo blast to right in the next half inning to bring it back even.
Righty Chad Martin (2-0) picked up his second win, throwing up two zeroes in the ninth and tenth inning with a pair of strikeouts.
All six of Charleston’s hits before the tenth came with two outs in the contest.
Fans in attendance were lucky eggs as Doug E. Doug from “Cool Runnings” was the guest of honor on “Jamaican Bobsled Night.” The actor, who played Sanka Coffie in the 1993 film, took photos and signed autographs for fans, and orchestrated a simulated pushcart race in between innings.
The RiverDogs also welcomed Cy Amundson, the host of ESPN’s SportsCenter on Snapchat. Additionally, it was another Budweiser Thirsty Thursday presented by 95SX with dollar beers in the Budweiser Ashley View Pub.
Charleston will welcome the Lexington Legends for a four-game, wrap-around series starting on Friday night at 7:05. Right-hander Daniel Ramos (2-1, 4.66) will get the start for the hometown RiverDogs. Friday is another Home Telecom postgame fireworks show in conjunction with WEZL and Live 5 News. The fireworks will be detonated to the scores of legendary composer John Williams. The game will be broadcast on 1250 WTMA in the tri-county area with online streaming audio also available worldwide on riverdogs.com, through the RiverDogs TuneIn radio app and on MiLB.tv.