Centerfielder Matt McPhearson laid out to make a game-saving catch that held a one-run lead while driving in the game-tying and go-ahead runs to lead the RiverDogs past the Columbia Fireflies, 6-5, to clinch Charleston’s second straight road series victory on Wednesday night at Spirit Communications Park.
Back in just his fifth game since colliding with a teammate in the outfield on April 18 with Charleston (28-29), McPhearson picked a couple of clutch spots to collect his first two RBI of the season, roping a game-tying double to left-center with one out in the fifth and sparking a four-run outburst with a single in the seventh to break a 2-2 tie.
The Fireflies (28-28) chipped away at the four-run cushion, using a two-run blast from centerfielder Quinn Brodey and a two-out RBI knock from left fielder Matt Winaker in the eighth that trimmed the deficit to just a run. With runners at first and second, catcher Scott Manea flared a ball into right-center that McPhearson got a beat on, laying out to end the inning and prevent the tying run from scoring.
Kyle Zurak finished the job out of the bullpen, recording the final four outs and taking advantage of McPhearson’s sparkling play to garner his fourth save, all coming in his last five appearances. The Radford University product retired four in a row.
The win improved Charleston to 12-18 in road games this season. The Holy City have won five of their last seven tilts away from Riley Park.
Catcher Jason Lopez touched off for his fourth home run of the season to start the scoring in a third, a two-out solo shot. The Fireflies used two home runs of their own in the fourth to take a brief 2-1 advantage.
Wednesday marked the first time all year the RiverDogs pitching staff allowed more than two home runs in a game.
Reliever Greg Weissert (2-2) gave up the two-run shot to Brodey but held the lead to garner the victory. Darwin Ramos (0-2) yielded four runs on six hits in the seventh to the Yankees Class A club to take the loss.
Charleston goes for the sweep of the Fireflies on Thursday night in the first leg of their Palmetto State road trip. The RiverDogs will send righty Jio Orozco (0-1, 5.14) to the hill as the Mets Class A club counters with right-hander Joe Cavallaro (6-1, 2.22). Thursday’s series finale will be broadcast on 1250 WTMA in the tri-county area, with audio available at riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio station.