GREENVILLE, SC - The RiverDogs rallied late to put a recent slump behind them as right fielder Carlos Vidal's seventh inning single helped Charleston steal a 3-2 victory from the Greenville Drive on Saturday night's series opener at Fluor Field.
The RiverDogs (39-37, 6-2) had been shutout for 15 straight innings before getting on the scoreboard in the seventh and taking their first lead. After a 1-0 blanking in Friday's homestand finale to the Braves, right-hander Kutter Crawford (2-4) stifled the Dogs for six strong innings before being touched up for three runs.
The Charleston bullpen locked the game down the rest of the way as Dalton Higgins (3-2) and Kyle Zurak combined to toss four scoreless innings. Higgins extended his stretch to 14 1/3 innings without an earned run allowed; the former seventh-rounder's only run allowed in that span was an 11th inning tally on Sunday in Asheville with a free runner opening the frame on second base. Zurak notched a six out save for his seventh of the season while fanning a pair of Drive hitters.
A Greenville error helped Charleston first cut the lead in half. First baseman Chris Hess singled into center that would have loaded the bases before Kervin Suarez bobbled a ball in center to allow Dermis Garcia to roll around third to cut the deficit to 2-1. Crawford departed the game before Dominic LaBrutto's first pitch out of the bullpen was driven into right field by Vidal to give the Holy City the advantage for good.
Vidal finished the night going 2-for-4 in his sixth multi-hit effort in 25 games with Charleston. After leaving the game with a lead, Crawford would see his second loss in four starts against the RiverDogs this season despite matching a season-high with nine punch outs and only yielding five hits scattered across 6 1/3.
The game remained 0-0 until the Red Sox affiliate got to Miguel Yajure with three straight hits to open the fifth. In a no-decision, the 20-year-old righty yielded just the pair of runs on six hits in five innings while striking out five.
The win marked Charleston's league-leading 35th game decided by one run this season, games in which the Dogs have now gone 16-19. Of the club's first 76 games, 47 have been decided by two runs or fewer.
Charleston improved to 4-6 in the Yankees-Red Sox season series in the South Atlantic League. They have yet to win a series in three chances against their in-state rivals this year. The victory ensures the RiverDogs will remain in at least a share of first-place in the second-half standings heading into Sunday.