GREENSBORO, N.C. – Two of Charleston’s All-Star selections were on full display as first baseman Mickey Gasper clobbered a solo homer to tie the game with two outs in the seventh and left fielder Canaan Smith drove a fly ball out to deep right-center to take the lead in the ninth as the RiverDogs snuck away with a series win at, taking a 2-1 victory on Wednesday afternoon at First National Bank Field.
The pair of home runs by Charleston’s three and four spot hitters, Smith’s fifth of the year and Gasper’s fourth, were two of just five hits on the afternoon in a tight pitchers’ duel on getaway day in Greensboro (38-20). Charleston (32-27) All-Star pitcher Alexander Vizcaino went just about pitch-for-pitch with Grasshoppers righty Osvaldo Bido, who held the RiverDogs scoreless with a career-high 10 strikeouts over six shutout innings to start the game. In his second scoreless start against Charleston, he began the game with an emphatic open, striking out six in a row after getting Brandon Lockridge to ground out to start the game.
Vizcaino went seven strong for the fourth time this season, allowing just a pair of back-to-back two-out singles in the second that were nearly enough for the ‘Hoppers in the contest. A 2-2 mistake to designated hitter Pat Dorrian was driven into left field to push Greensboro out to the early 1-0 lead. Vizcaino finished fanning seven batters and scattered five total hits with a pair of walks on the day in a no-decision effort. He was bailed out on a tremendous defensive play by Lockridge when the Charleston center fielder leaped at the wall to rob Rodolfo Castro of a home run to right-center in the third, a drive that would have made it 3-0 Grasshoppers.
Smith’s game-winning home run prevented extra innings in the road trip finale and was the former fourth round pick’s second in the last three days in Greensboro. The line drive ricocheted off the façade of the apartments in right-center, drilled off the bat at an estimated 102 mph exit velocity. Smith, who will start the All-Star Game on June 18 in left field for the Southern Division, leads the RiverDogs with a .311 batting average and an .896 OPS on the season.
Right-hander Wellington Diaz (3-1) worked the final two innings scoreless after allowing runs in his last three appearances. Lefty Braeden Ogle (1-1) allowed the game-tying and go-ahead blasts to take the loss for Greensboro, dashing any hopes of a comeback in the Northern Division as they trailed Delmarva by 5.0 games entering play on Wednesday with less than two weeks remaining in the first-half chase. Charleston won a pair of one-run games in the bookends of the three-game set against the league’s second-best team by record.
Although he made his presence known with the glove, Lockridge finished the game 0-for-4 at the plate, ending his streak of 22 consecutive games on base.