GREENSBORO, N.C. – With only 12 games remaining until the All-Star break, the first-place Charleston RiverDogs only need to hold steady to find themselves in the postseason. The RiverDogs took solace in that fact as they weren’t near their best on Tuesday night in Greensboro. After falling behind early, the Grasshoppers roared back to score the final eight runs of the game unanswered to blow past Charleston, 8-1, at First National Bank Field, evening the series at one game apiece.
Centerfielder Brandon Lockridge stayed hot, leading off the ballgame with a single to reach base for the 22nd consecutive game, one of just five hits on the evening for Charleston (31-27), who were handed their biggest loss since April 14, an 11-2 rout by the Grasshoppers (38-19) during Opening Weekend at Riley Park. Despite being 19 games over .500, Greensboro finds themselves still 5.0 games back of the Delmarva Shorebirds (43-14) in an all but settled first-half Northern Division race.
Since a 15-5 run from April 25-May 16 to separate themselves from the rest of the Southern Division, the RiverDogs have gone 7-10 and will hold at least a 2.0 game lead over Augusta heading into play Wednesday.
In the second inning, recently named All-Star Mickey Gasper singled to open the frame, later scoring on an errant throw by the catcher Grant Koch, to give the RiverDogs a brief advantage.
New Jersey native Jack Herman gave the Grasshoppers the lead right away in the bottom half, driving a 2-1 pitch out to right-center for his first home run of the season, making it 3-1. It was the 19-year-old’s 7th at-bat of the season since joining Greensboro. He would add another run on a single in the eighth, finishing off a four-RBI night for the left fielder.
Daniel Bies returned from injured list to make his first start since wearing a come backer off his pitching arm on May 21 in Asheville, and consistently hit the zone all night, despite giving up a season-high nine hits. The former Gonzaga Bulldog issued one walk with a pair of strikeouts against one of the top-hitting lineups in the league that entered playing leading the SAL in OPS and slugging percentage. The 6’8” righty finished five innings after missing a pair of starts on the IL.
Pirates No. 12 prospect Steven Jennings (4-5) fired six innings of one-run ball, allowing just an unearned tally and yielding three hits with two strikeouts in his best start of the season to pick up the win.