CHARLESTON, S.C. – A three-run blast by Max Burt aided the RiverDogs in taking the first of four games against the Asheville Tourists 6-2 Thursday night in front of 2,893 at Joe Riley Park.
Kyle Gray struck out to lead off the bottom of the third, but the next four Charleston (33-27) hitters would reach against Asheville (25-35) starter Alfredo Garcia (1-5, 7.33). Newly-minted All-Stars Canaan Smith hit a seeing-eye single through the hole on the right side of the infield and Mickey Gasper drew a walk to set up the scoring chance for Burt.
The Massachusetts-native watched the first offering miss, and crushed the subsequent pitch over the scoreboard and off a tree beyond the left field wall for a three-run shot to put the Dogs up 4-0. It was Burt’s sixth home run since returning to the RiverDogs from Extended Spring Training on May 17, a span in which he’s gone 19-for-66 (.288) after a 6-for-35 skid during his first stint with the RiverDogs.
Charleston drew first blood in the bottom of the first, when a single by Gray, a walk drawn by Smith and Burt being hit by an offering from Garcia brought former Rockies farmhand Omar Carrizales to the plate with the bases juiced and two out. Carrizales, appearing in his third game with Charleston and his first at Joe Riley Park as member of the home side, forced six pitches out of Garcia en route to a bases-loaded walk, putting the first tally on the scoreboard.
The Dogs sent Harold Cortijo (1-0, 3.60) to the mound for his Charleston debut after being called up from Extended Spring Training. Cortijo took the early 1-0 lead and ran with it, facing the minimum through the first three innings and cruising through the first four before working his way into a jam in the fifth.
The Tourists finally broke through against Cortijo with a single and a towering two-run home run by Daniel Montano that cut the RiverDogs’ lead in half. Cortijo allowed a single to Kyle Datres following the round-tripper, but escaped the inning without further damage done after he induced a groundout off the bat of Javier Guevara and fanned Will Golsan and the Rockies No. 13 overall prospect Terrin Vavra.
Charleston added its final two markers on a two run single by Canaan Smith, the culmination of a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth that saw three straight hitters reach against Boby Johnson and Derrik Watson. A costly two out error by third baseman Johnny Cresto allowed Brandon Lockridge to reach, extending the inning to eventually bring Smith to the plate.
After the five solid frames, Charleston’s bullpen took over and kept Asheville off the board through the final four frames. Tanner Myatt came on for his sixth appearance of the year and worked three strong innings, allowing two hits and two walks with two strikeouts of his own, and Aaron McGarity forced a game-ending double play to seal the win with a scoreless ninth.
The victory moved the RiverDogs to a 3-5 record against the Tourists this season after Asheville took the first two series against Charleston in North Carolina.
Fans kicked their weekend off a day early Thursday night, enjoying $1 beers alongside classic outdoor party games, like Giant Jenga and cornhole, up on the Ashley View Pub as part of another Budweiser Thirsty Thursday.
Following the game one victory, the RiverDogs will try to carry their momentum into game two tomorrow night and hold on to their slim 2.5-game lead in the SAL Southern Division. The RiverDogs are slated to send right-hander Luis Medina (0-3, 9.26) in the second game of the series. The Yankees' pre-season No. 11 prospect per Baseball America is looking to shake off a pair of rough starts against the Rockies affiliate, having allowed 17 runs over 5 1/3 innings against Asheville this year. On the other side, Asheville will task former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Feltner (3-5, 5.09) with shutting down the Dogs. In two home starts against Charleston this season, Feltner has thrown a combined eight innings, surrendering six runs on eight hits.