CHARLESTON, S.C. – The offensive woes continued for the RiverDogs, as Charleston hitters could not solve Kannapolis starter Davis Martin in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night in front of 2,817 at Joe Riley Park.
It was the fourth game in a row that the Dogs (8-12) were held to three runs or less, and Martin (2-1, 6.75) was almost untouchable in his six innings of work. The RiverDogs went down in order in the top of the first, but things looked promising for the home club when Josh Breaux crushed a 1-1 offering over the left-center field wall for his second professional home run to lead off the second frame.
The Kannapolis (8-10) starter shrugged off the solo shot and set down the next eight hitters he faced, four of which went down on strikes. It was Breaux again who broke up Martin’s rhythm, with a line drive single to center field in the fourth. Just like the second, Martin was unfazed and finished his night retiring the final seven RiverDogs hitters he faced. When it was all said and done, Martin finished his six innings with just the one run allowed on the two hits to Breaux, striking out 11.
Charleston starter Jio Orozco (1-2, 2.21) was equally impressive, matching Martin pitch-for-pitch in his fourth start of the campaign. Orozco started the evening with three perfect innings before a leadoff single by Ian Dawkins in the top of the fourth dashed any hopes of something special. Like his counterpart, Orozco continued undeterred, getting safely through the sixth before running into trouble in seventh.
A leadoff walk to Gunnar Troutwine, Orozco’s first of the night, paved way for Bryce Bush’s RBI triple to tie the game at one run apiece. Michael Hickman followed with an RBI single of his own to give Kannapolis a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Orozco’s night ended there, having allowed two runs on six hits, fanning four. Carlos Espinal relieved Orozco and promptly struck out the side to stop the bleeding.
Sam Long was called upon to relieve Martin for the Intimidators, spinning scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The Dogs mustered their final threat of the night with a two-out triple by Isaiah Pasteur off of Austin Conway in the ninth, but Conway struck out Breaux for the final out of the game, leaving the Dogs searching for answers in the midst of a tough stretch in the third week of the season.
The loss was Charleston’s seventh in their last ten contests, a rut that has seen the RiverDogs score just 3.4 runs per game in that stretch. The Dogs entered tonight with a team batting average of .224 and 66 total runs scored, marks that ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, out of the 14 clubs in the South Atlantic League.
Of note on the positive side for Charleston, Dalton Higgins followed up Espinal’s two scoreless frames with one of his own, retiring the side in order including two strikeouts. In six appearances for the RiverDogs so far, Higgins has pitched 12 innings, striking out 16 total batters without issuing a single walk.
Pasteur was in the lineup for the first time since April 9 after coming off of the IL, earning two hits and a stolen base in four at bats.
Wednesday night saw a significant change of pace at The Joe. For the first-of-its-kind “Embrace of Play” night at Joe Riley Stadium, the RiverDogs counteracted the efforts of Major League Baseball’s pace of play initiatives. From daisy-picking in the outfield to “No Running” signs set up throughout the concourses, fans were encouraged to take their time in everything they did. To top it all off, a commemorative “I stayed for an entire ballgame” pin was given to fans as they exited the ballpark. On a night celebrating baseball’s leisurely pace, it was actually the RiverDogs’ quickest game of the season, clocking in at two hours and 27 minutes.