CHARLESTON, S.C. – It was deja vu all over again, as Charleston utilized another late-inning rally, including Mickey Gasper’s three-run double in the eighth, to down the Columbia Fireflies 9-7 on Memorial Day in front of 3,170 at Joe Riley Park.
In a back-and-forth affair that featured three ties and three lead changes, Charleston eventually prevailed on the strength of two bases-loaded rallies in the seventh and the eighth frames, and Gasper’s bases-clearing double was the dagger in the series-clinching win.
It started so innocently in a game knotted up at five runs apiece, with a one-out walk to Eduardo Torrealba after Jose Moreno (2-1, 1.93) struck out Ricky Surum to lead off the frame. The wheels came off for the Fireflies after the free pass, as Josh Stowers reached on an error by first baseman Brian Sharp, allowing Torrealba to advance to third, and Canaan Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases after Kyle Gray popped out to Hayden Senger in foul territory.
Fireflies (19-32) skipper Pedro Lopez remained confident in his pitcher, though, leaving him in to face Gasper. The RiverDogs’ (28-23) catcher came through, crushing a 3-2 into the left center field gap and clearing the bases to give Charleston an 8-5 lead. The Dogs tacked on one more after the two-bagger, when Frederick Cuevas followed with a double of his own to plate Gasper.
The eighth-inning rally was the second of the night, when Charleston scratched across two in the seventh to, at the time, take a 5-4 lead. It wasn’t the kind of edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckle rally that fans saw Sunday evening, but it got the job done.
The RiverDogs needed just one hit to plate two runs, an intended-sacrifice bunt by Kyle Gray that squeaked under the glove of Fireflies reliever Tylor Megill with Josh Stowers on first and Eduardo Torrealba on second. Stowers and Torrealba reached on an error and a walk, respectively, and after the bunt single by Gray, Canaan Smith walked to force in the tying run. Gasper was hit by a pitch immediately after to force the go-ahead tally across.
It was a tight game until that point, as nine of the 16 total runs came in the seventh inning and beyond. Mitchell Robinson got the Dogs on the board first in the bottom of the second, crushing an offering from Columbia starter Simeon Woods-Richardson over the left field wall for his first homer of the season and second of his career to put Charleston up 2-0.
After allowing four straight runs to the Fireflies, Charleston got their third run in the bottom of the fifth, on back-to-back doubles by Kyle Gray and Canaan Smith to cut Columbia’s lead to 4-3.
Jio Orozco struggled through five innings, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks. He needed 77 pitches in his effort, and didn’t strike a hitter out for the first time this season. Jhony Brito (2-0, 2.19) made his seventh appearance of the season in relief and completed the last four innings, allowing three runs on three hits en route to securing his second win of the season.
The win was Charleston’s 11th of the season over the Fireflies, and it marked the highest scoring home game of the season.
After a relaxing day off of work in honor of Memorial Day, RiverDogs fans capped off their three-day weekend at The Joe for Dog Day Monday. Many of those in attendance for the RiverDogs’ third game of four against the Fireflies brought their furry friends with them. Fans also enjoyed $1 beer and hot dogs up on the Ashley View Pub to top it off.