The RiverDogs plated a pair of runs to in the sixth to cut their early deficit to just a run, but the Greenville Drive staved off a late rally to hang on, 8-5, over Charleston in front of 5,932 on Friday night at Joe Riley Park.
The loss marked Charleston’s (32-32) fifth defeat in seven meetings with their Red Sox rivals. The league-worst Drive (33-43) ripped 13 hits off the RiverDogs pitching staff in the first time the series took its turn in the Lowcountry.
Greenville surged behind a five-run third after the RiverDogs took an early 1-0 lead. The Red Sox farmhands batted around, tallying six hits in the frame while starter Rony Garcia (2-4) exited after 2.2 innings with an undisclosed injury and being charged three earned runs and a losing decision.
At that point trailing 5-1, the homestanding nine showed some signs of life in the fourth when they loaded up the bases with nobody out on a hit by pitch to Chris Hess and a pair of singles by DH Dermis Garcia and catcher Jason Lopez. Left fielder Welfrin Mateo bounced into a force out at the plate before center fielder Matt McPhearson drilled a double into right-center to plate a pair, cutting the deficit to two.
Greenville answered with an insurance run in the sixth before Charleston plated a pair to get within a run. Right fielder Carlos Vidal smoked a ball off the glove of first baseman Michael Osinski for a double that scored the first. McPhearson put a ball in play on the ground to drive in his third of the game and make it 6-5.
The Drive iced the game away with a pair of runs off the bullpen in the eighth and ninth.
Lopez and Dermis Garcia each tallied two-hit games for Charleston. Kyle Zurak’s 10-inning scoreless streak came to an end when he yielded a run in the ninth, started by a leadoff triple from left fielder Jordan Wren, the son of the former Braves GM.
Joe Riley Park became the happiest place on Earth for a night as RiverDogs fans sang along to the musical hits of Disney, culminating with a Home Telecom postgame fireworks extravaganza set to the hits of the wonderful world.
The RiverDogs continue the series with the Drive on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Charleston will send . For those that can’t make it out to the park, Friday’s contest will be broadcast on 1250 WTMA in the tri-county area, with audio available at riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs TuneIn radio station.