Starting pitcher and South Carolina product JP Sears turned in seven shutout innings for the Charleston RiverDogs on Thursday, but an eighth inning blown save allowed the Columbia Fireflies to claim a 2-1 victory in front of 4,310 fans at Joe Riley Park.
Sears took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning before allowing his lone knock, an infield single that skipped off shortstop Wilkerman Garcia. The RiverDogs (17-22) southpaw walked two and recorded three strikeouts, lowering the Sumter native’s season ERA to 1.52 and leaving in line for the win.
In the eighth inning, Columbia (21-18) rallied for a pair of runs and the lead off hard-throwing lefty Anderson Severino (1-1). Righty Braden Bristo finished the inning and tossed a scoreless ninth to keep the Dogs within a run. After walking the leadoff man, Severino gave up back-to-back run-scoring extra-base hits, including the go-ahead double from right fielder Raphael Gladu.
Charleston was retired in order by Stephen Villines (SV, 4) in their half of the ninth, capping off the comeback for the Fireflies.
Offensively, Charleston’s lone run came from a Wilkerman Garcia RBI single in the third inning, plating Pablo Olivares. Earlier in the half inning, Leonardo Molina reached on an infield single, extending his hit streak to a dozen games.
Dermis Garcia, the Yankees’ No. 22 prospect, was added to the roster before the game. The third baseman was immediately plugged into the three hole, but went 0-for-4 with all strikeouts. The Dominican Republic native clubbed eight long balls in 30 games with the RiverDogs last season, and 17 in total between the Holy City and short season Pulaski.
Thursday was Summer Kickoff on another Budweiser Thirsty Thursday presented by 95SX. Fans enjoyed dollar beers in the Budweiser Ashley View Pub and celebrated the start of summer, despite the overcast weather.
First pitch of Friday’s game two in the four-game weekend series between Charleston and Columbia is scheduled for 7:05. The RiverDogs are hosting “Tech Night” as they honor the 8-bit characters of the arcade era and the technologically savvy community in Charleston. There is also a Home Telecom postgame fireworks extravaganza in conjunction with WEZL and Live 5 News set to the tunes of your favorite joystick heroes and the RiverDogs’ attempts at two-bit humor. Friday’s contest can be tuned into on WTMA 1250 AM and online streaming via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio station. Video streaming is available on MiLB.tv.