Catcher Jason Lopez continued his power surge with his first career multi-home run game, tagging his second and third long balls in the past two days for all the offense on the evening as the RiverDogs couldn’t complete a four-game sweep of the Greenville Drive, falling 5-3 on Tuesday night at Fluor Field.
Lopez gave the RiverDogs (41-38, 8-3) a first-inning lead by uncorking his second two-run homer of the series before going yard again two at-bats later in the seventh, a leadoff shot that cut the deficit to 4-3 at the time. The newfound power for the 20-year-old backstop has now produced seven home runs on the season with Charleston, all after recording just a single homer in each of his first three pro seasons. The Valencia, Venezuela native accounted for two of Charleston’s four hits while driving in all three of their runs.
The RiverDogs end the four-day road trip going 3-1, their first series victory over Greenville (30-52, 4-9) this season still with their league-best record since the All-Star break intact.
With the RiverDogs down a pair in the ninth, Lopez came up for a fourth plate appearance and drew a walk before Lukas Young struck out the next two hitters to seal the victory.
Center fielder Pablo Olivares saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0-for-4 from the leadoff spot. The 20-year-old had gone 19-for-47 (.404) over the torrid stretch, dropping his batting average to .344 on the year and still just a handful of at-bats shy of qualifying for the league leader boards in which he would rank first in hitting.
Lefty Reiver Sanmartin (0-1) made his Charleston debut after a call up from Short Season Staten Island and gave up four runs, three earned, across five innings of work. The Drive used a pair of Charleston errors to help plate four runs between the third and fourth innings, including an errant pickoff throw by Lopez with the bases loaded in the former, just his second error charged in over 400 total chances this season to him.
After Lopez cut the Drive’s lead to just a run with his second of the night in the seventh, first baseman Garrett Benge homered off Alexander Vargas to deep right in the ninth to push the Greenville lead to 5-3.
Lefty Jhonathan Diaz (4-5) settled in after allowing the early home run to finish with a quality start and garner the victory, striking out six over six frames and three total hits allowed.
The RiverDogs return home for the July 4th holiday, opening a three-game set against the Augusta GreenJackets, the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. Charleston will send the Yankees’ No. 14 prospect, 19-year-old righty Deivi Garcia (1-1, 3.60) to the mound. Augusta will throw right-hander Aaron Phillips (2-4, 5.68) in the Independence Day opener. Wednesday’s game can be tuned into on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM with audio streaming live at riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs’ TuneIn radio station. The game will pick up in progress on WTMA starting at 7 p.m.