A three-run double from first baseman Chris Hess was one of three hits for the Rhode Island product as the Charleston RiverDogs staved off a late rally from the Columbia Fireflies, claiming a 6-5 victory on Saturday at Spirit Communications Park.
Hess’ double came off Columbia (41-42, 7-9) starter Yeizo Campos (1-1) with two outs in the third inning, capping a four-run frame to give Charleston (44-39, 11-4) the night’s first tallies.
The All-Star third baseman added a second double in the seventh inning and a single in the ninth. The 23-year-old also walked and scored to give the Dogs a fifth-inning insurance run.
First baseman Jeremy Vasquez led Columbia’s comeback effort with his fifth and sixth home runs of the season in the sixth and eighth innings, respectively. The lefty slugger clobbered a three-run shot off winning pitcher Janson Junk (3-1) before ripping a leadoff homer off Alexander Vargas, who claimed his third save.
Junk allowed just one hit in the first five innings and retired eight straight before a leadoff single in the sixth. The Seattle University product had a 12-inning scoreless streak spoiled by Vasquez’s first long ball.
Working with a one-run lead, Vargas retired the final six Columbia batters to end the ballgame.
Center fielder Pablo Olivares added two hits to his season total, raising his clip to .345. The 20-year-old is three plate appearances shy of qualifying for the SAL leaderboard. If eligible, the Venezuelan native would lead the league on-base percentage while ranking second in average.
With the victory, Charleston improved to 18-20 in their league-leading 38th one-run contest. The Holy City is 44-39, putting their overall record at five games above .500 for the first time this season. Consequently, Columbia fell below the .500 plateau at 41-42 for the first time since June 7th.
Charleston held its first place tie with Asheville in the SAL’s Southern Division. The Dogs earned a league-best 11th second-half victory.
Sunday’s game two between Charleston and Columbia is at 2:05 as RiverDogs right-hander Rony Garcia (3-4, 3.97) takes on righty Luc Rennie (0-0, 0.00). Sunday’scontest will be broadcast in the tri-county area on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM with audio streaming live at riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs’ TuneIn radio station.