CHARLESTON, S.C. – After the West Virginia Power rallied for three runs in the top of ninth, the RiverDogs took care of business in the bottom of the 11th for their second consecutive walk-off win over the Power, taking Wednesday night’s contest 7-6 in front of 3,156 at Joe Riley Park.
Charleston (22-17) sent Daniel Bies to the mound, making his fourth start of the season since moving to the rotation on April 25, and he got off to a shaky start before settling down in this one.
The first pitch Bies threw was hit into right field on a soft line drive by Power (20-18) leadoff hitter Charlie McConnell for a leadoff single. A stolen base and a productive groundout had McConnell on third with one out for the Mariners’ No. 2 overall prospect Jarred Kelenic. He worked the count full against Bies, one of two full counts in the top of the first, before lining an RBI single down the right field line to put the Power on top 1-0.
Lockridge threw Kelenic out at second base after he attempted to stretch the knock into his 14th double of the season, and Bies escaped further damage by getting a fly ball to Lockridge off the bat of Ryan Ramiz.
As has been the case the past couple of weeks, it didn’t take long for the RiverDogs’ blazing hot offense, which ranked first in the South Atlantic League in hitting with a .277 average since May 1 entering play, to get the run back. Charleston tagged West Virginia’s Ryne Inman for two runs in the bottom of the second, an inning that saw four straight Dogs reach base after a leadoff flyout by Canaan Smith.
Kyle Gray hit an infield single after the initial out, and after a walk to Mitchell Robinson that forced Gray to second, Frederick Cuevas came through with a game-tying RBI single to right field that plated Gray. Mitchell, who advanced to second on Cuevas’ equalizing knock, came around to give Charleston the lead on Eduardo Navas’ third hit in his past four games, a welcome sight for the RiverDogs after Navas’ rough start to his 2019 season.
After a scoreless top of the third by Bies, the Dogs extended their lead in the home half of the frame. Josh Stowers walked to lead things off, and he forced the first of two Power errors when he stole second and advanced to third when Dean Nevarez’s throw dribbled into center field. An RBI single plated Stowers, and the Dogs tacked on one more to lead 3-1 heading into the fourth.
Bies shook off the uneasy first, going five more innings without allowing another tally. His night was done when he walked off the mound after the sixth inning. He allowed just the one run on four hits, striking out five. The outing was the third of the season in which he did not issue a free pass.
Charleston plated three more runs in the fifth and sixth innings, on an RBI single by Canaan Smith, a groundout by Lockridge and a sacrifice fly by Ricky Surum, taking a commanding 6-1 lead over the Power.
A shaky sixth outing of the year by Anderson Munoz allowed the Power to score five more times in the top of the seventh and ninth innings, including a furious four-run ninth-inning rally to send the game to send the game to extra frames.
Aaron McGarity (2-2, 5.17) came on in the tenth, and was tasked with holding the Power off the board for the next two innings after Charleston failed to score in the bottom of the 10th. McGarity was nails in his first outing since allowing the tying run to score in the bottom of the ninth inning in the opener in Hickory, keeping West Virginia scoreless for two extra frames despite the runner starting on second base at the start of each extra inning.
Stowers again came up clutch in the bottom of the 11th, driving in Eduardo Torrealba on a game-winning RBI single, who advanced to third on a bunt by Lockridge. Stowers and Smith combined to steal five bases in the victory, a season-high for the RiverDogs. Stowers’ four stolen bags were also a career-high, and he became the first RiverDog to do so since Jorge Mateo accomplished the feat four times in 2015 while leading the Minor Leagues in stolen bases that year.
The win assured Charleston would sit above .500 at home for the first time this season, with a 10-9 record at The Joe through the first 19 home games.
The RiverDogs tried something new at The Joe Wednesday night, banning anything and everything that contained peanuts as part of the first Peanut-Free Night at Joe Riley Park. The move was made in effort to allow fans who aren’t usually able to come out to the park on account of their peanut allergies