The Charleston RiverDogs staved off a late Lexington rally and three separate rain delays, using an early 7-0 advantage to take the second-half opener over the Legends, 9-8, on a rain-soaked Thursday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
In his first game back after a 12-day stint on the disabled list, center fielder Pablo Olivares went 2-for-4 while driving in a team-high three runs, leading Citadel product JP Sears (1-5) to his first win of the season as the left-hander lowered his ERA to a 2.67 mark with three runs (two earned) allowed while striking out six over five frames. It marked the eighth time in ten starts he had pitched the minimum five innings to qualify, allowing three earned runs or fewer in each. It marked the Sumter, S.C. native’s first win as a Yankee farmhand after being acquired over the offseason in a trade with Seattle.
First baseman Dermis Garcia launched the first pitch of the fifth inning out of the ballpark for his fourth home run of the season, a towering blast to left-center that carried an estimated 400 feet. The Yankees’ No. 20 prospect hit Charleston’s (1-0, 34-35) lone home run as Lexington (0-1, 27-32) rode the wave of three long balls to nearly come back from what was a seven-run deficit at one point.
Left fielder Brewer Hicklen got enough of an 0-2 pitch from Sears in the third to push a two-run homer out to left to get Lexington on the board and first baseman Manny Olloque just missed another long ball off the top of the wall in right to cut the deficit to four at 7-3.
In the sixth, Lexington went back-to-back to pull a run shy of Charleston. With two runs already home and a man standing on base, DH Seuly Matias belted his minor league-leading 23rd home run of the season to start the second-half, his fourth of the year against the RiverDogs after launching three off Charleston pitching during Opening Week. Third baseman Dennicher Carrasco followed two pitches later with a solo shot to left, getting the Legends within a run. Reliever Greg Weissert yielded all five unearned runs in an inning extended by an error.
The Yankees and Royals affiliates endured three separate rain delays totaling 1 hour and 34 minutes, beginning with a 29-minute delayed start before waiting through 32 minutes of rain and resuming to throw just 13 pitches in the eighth before the game was interrupted again and eventually called final after seven-plus.
Charleston tallied runs in each of the first three innings to start the game. With two outs and a man at second, designated hitter Steven Sensley, one of the RiverDogs’ two All-Star picks featured in Tuesday’s mid-summer classic, singled into center to put the Dogs on the board, 1-0.
In the second, the Holy City followed with four more hits to plate a pair and stretch their advantage to 3-0. In the third, Leonardo Molina cruised in for a stand-up triple, his team-leading sixth of the season, to drive in a pair and cap a four-run frame to push Charleston out to their largest lead of the night, 7-0.
All nine RiverDogs tallied base hits in a combined 13-hit, 9-run effort for an offense that ranked second-last in the league in runs scored in the first-half of the season.
-per Charleston RiverDogs