Centerfielder Leonardo Molina ripped a bases-clearing triple to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning and Kyle Zurak recorded a four-out save to hold off a late Crawdads rally as the Charleston RiverDogs hung on to win, 8-7, in Friday night’s series opener at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Charleston (21-25) matched a season-high by whacking 15 total hits, including a 3-for-4 performance from Molina, who finished a home run shy of the cycle. The Dominican Republic native broke a two-inning scoreless drought to snap the tie with his two-out knock drilled to the right-center gap.
The Crawdads (16-27) didn’t go down quietly, using a three-run home run by right fielder Tyler Ratliff in the bottom of the inning to trim the deficit to just a run. After Chad Martin gave up the home run, his first runs of any kind after a 17-inning scoreless streak to start the year, he walked catcher Yohel Pozo before making way for Zurak. The former Radford right-hander sent down four in a row with two strikeouts to finish the game for the Charleston pen and pick up his first save of the season.
Outfielders Pablo Olivares and Steven Sensley also finished with 3-hit games for the RiverDogs. Olivares is now 26 for his last 65 (.400) in the month of May. The contest featured nine combined extra-base hits between both clubs, including two home runs by the Crawdads that either tied the game or brought it within a run.
In his return from the disabled list, Daniel Ramos (3-2), threw three perfect innings of relief to garner the win, settling the game down after Jio Orozco yielded four runs across a four-inning start in his second outing of the season.
A one-out error helped bring Ratliff to the plate in the eighth, making all three runs allowed by Martin go unearned. The University of Delaware product still has a 0.00 ERA through 17 1/3 innings pitched to start the year and only four hits allowed.
Charleston opened the scoring in the first with three hits. Wilkerman Garcia led off the game with a knock before the former first-rounder Kyle Holder opened his 2018 campaign with a single of his own after being activated from Double-A Trenton’s disabled list and being assigned to the RiverDogs earlier that day. With two outs, Chris Hess drove in Garcia on an RBI single.
Hickory third baseman Justin Jacobs answered with a two-out, solo shot before Charleston and Hickory traded two-run frames in the second.
Charleston continues the series with the Crawdads on Saturday night at 6 p.m. The RiverDogs will put righty Alexander Vargas (2-0, 3.77) on the bump as Hickory counters with Wisconsinite right-hander Derek Heffel (0-0, 6.75). Saturday night’s broadcast can be tuned into on WTMA 1250 AM and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio station starting with “Saturday Dog Talk” pregame coverage at 5:30.