ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Charleston RiverDogs capitalized on a pair of ninth inning errors to complete a ninth inning comeback for the first time all season as they roared past Asheville, 7-5, on Thursday night at McCormick Field.
Down by a pair and 0-13 when trailing after eight previously, the RiverDogs (25-22) looked alive in the ninth once again after they had managed to score on Asheville (18-28) in the final frame each of the past two nights in comeback efforts that fell short.
Designated hitter Canaan Smith continued his fantastic season with Charleston, lacing a 3-2 pitch to left-center for a double to kick off the frame, his first knock of the night to extend his hitting streak to nine straight; he continues to pace the Dogs while ranking among the top-5 in the league in batting (.336) and OPS (.911). First baseman Mickey Gasper followed with a ground ball to second that was misplayed by Terrin Vavra, putting runners at the corners and nobody out.
Tourists closer Alexander Martinez (1-3) folded under the ninth inning pressure for a second time in the series, next walking Frederick Cuevas on four pitches to set up a chance for Kyle Gray. The RiverDogs second baseman rapped a ball back to the mound that was thrown away past first, scoring pinch-runner Ricky Surum and tying the contest at five apiece. After an intentional walk to load the bases with two outs, Eduardo Torrealba hit a high chopper to second not suitable for a double play, scoring the go-ahead tally that made it 6-5 RiverDogs. Left fielder Brandon Lockridge laced the first pitch he saw to left-center for an extra tally to make it a 7-5 lead.
In his second appearance since a call up from Extended Spring Training, North Carolina native Bryan Blanton pitched around a one-out double from Johnny Cresto to hold the Tourists at bay and secure the save and Charleston’s first ninth inning comeback of the season.
Charleston snapped a streak of six straight allowing the game’s first run when Gray and third baseman Max Burt ripped back-to-back pitches out of the ballpark to make it 3-0 RiverDogs in the second.
After an unearned tally off starter Alexander Vizcaino in the third, Asheville took their first lead on a three-run homer by Kyle Datres in the fourth inning. A walk and another Charleston error set the table for the go-ahead blast, the third of the season for the former Tarheel infielder.
One day removed from his 22nd birthday, Vizcaino had his strikeout stuff working, fanning eight of the first 14 Tourists that he faced. The Dominican-born righty flashed 97 mph velocity and finished with 10 punchouts for a second straight start to tie a career-high. He allowed four runs, only two earned in part due to three RiverDogs errors, over 4 2/3 innings on the night to bump his ERA up to 3.27.