ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Down to their final strike of the evening, Charleston’s offense woke up in the ninth to finally break out in their road trip opener. Right fielder Josh Stowers homered, and catcher Mickey Gasper whacked a double with the RiverDogs down to their final out to tie the game, before the Tourists walked off on the RiverDogs, 3-2, on Tuesday night at McCormick Field.
After collecting just hits over the first eight innings, all singles, Charleston’s (24-21) lineup crushed four hits in the ninth, including three for extra-bases, to tie it up. Stowers cracked his second long ball as a Yankee farmhand, both coming in the last week, to make it a one-run game. In the next at-bat, left fielder Canaan Smith thought he had tied the game with a deep drive to left-center, but it instead caromed off the top of the wall for a double. Designated hitter Josh Breaux singled into right to put runners at the corners. After Kyle Gray struck out looking, Mickey Gasper fouled off back-to-back two strike pitches before tying the game with a double that sliced to the left field corner. Burt struck out swinging with the go-ahead run at third base.
In the bottom of the ninth, a crucial misplay by third baseman Max Burt allowed Will Golsan to reach to open the inning and score the game’s winning run on a safety squeeze bunt. Mitchell Robinson looked like he had a chance to cut down the go-ahead score but juggled the ball on the transfer as the Tourists (16-28) walked off to hand Charleston their fourth loss in the last five days.
Asheville pitching held Charleston’s potent offense in check most of the evening as the Dogs lineup was held scoreless over eight frames in the highest run-scoring ballpark in the South Atlantic League. 19-year-old southpaw Alfredo Garcia was particularly impressive, matching a season-high with nine strikeouts over six shutout frames before handing the ball off to the bullpen. The Venezuelan arm allowed just three singles and issued one walk.
The RiverDogs’ offense entered play leading the league in hitting and ranking second in runs scored over their last 24 games, before going scoreless to open the night.
Daniel Bies was tough on the Tourists lineup in his own right, matching a pair of scoreless frames from Garcia to start the evening before Asheville broke through in the third. Montes laced a double into left-center and was later granted third base on a balk, allowing him to score on Willie MacIver’s ground out to third, making it 1-0 Tourists.
Bies would shrug off the run, going on to retire five in a row before a comebacker was laced off his pitching arm by second baseman Terrin Vavra, ending his evening prematurely in the fifth. The Gonzaga product allowed just the lone run in 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts in a no-decision.
Reliever Carlos Espinal went on to work the next 2 2/3 in emergency relief and was tagged for an unearned run in the sixth because of an error that put a leadoff runner aboard. Golsan cashed in on the mistake with a sac fly later in the inning.
The RiverDogs continue the series in Asheville on Wednesday night, sending fire balling righty Luis Gil (2-2, 0.82) to the mound. The 20-year-old rated as the Yankees’ No. 13 prospect in the pre-season is coming off a six-inning scoreless outing last Thursday against West Virginia and has allowed just one earned run in his last five starts, spanning 25.2 innings. The Tourists will counter with right-hander and Rockies No. 23 prospect Ryan Feltner (2-3, 4.69).