CHARLESTON, S.C. – A couple of early runs weren’t enough for the RiverDogs in the series finale, as Charleston fell to the Asheville Tourists 3-2 in front of 3,788 at Joe Riley Park.
The RiverDogs (34-29) entered play 11 games over .500 with a 21-10 record when they score first, and that’s exactly what they did. After starter Nolan Martinez worked around a two-out single to keep Asheville (27-36) off the board in the top of the first, Charleston took advantage of two walks by Shelby Lackey (2-6, 5.80) and scratched a run across on Mickey Gasper’s RBI groundout to take a 1-0 lead.
The Dogs tagged Lackey for another tally in the bottom of the third, again on an RBI groundout, this time by Frederick Cuevas, that followed two straight singles by Canaan Smith and Gasper.
Asheville struck back in the top of the fourth, getting a run via an RBI single by second baseman Coco Montes that plated Terrin Vavra who led off the frame with a single.
Martinez pitched a clean fifth before running out of gas in the top of the sixth inning. The first four Tourists reached on a leadoff double by Will Golsan and three straight singles, the second of which came off the bat of Niko Decolati to drive Golsan home, knotting the game up at two runs apiece. Following the third consecutive single, manager Julio Mosquera had seen enough. Charleston’s skipper called upon Jhony Brito (3-1, 2.10) to escape the bases-loaded, none-out jam.
Brito worked through an impossible situation beautifully, striking out Coco Montes and inducing a 2-3 double play off a failed bunt attempt by Danny Edgeworth to prevent the Tourists from plating the go-ahead run.
For all Brito’s hard work in the sixth, he eventually surrendered Asheville’s third run in the top of the seventh. Asheville manufactured the tally with the classic “Get him on, get him over, get him in” style of play. Javier Guevara hit a one out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Brito, moved to third on a single by Cade Harris, and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Golsan.
Ron Marinaccio came on for his season debut in the eighth, and pitched two dominant innings, striking out four and allowing just a hit and a walk to keep the Dogs in the game, but strong relief work from Derrik Watson, PJ Poulin and Alexander Martinez held the Dogs scoreless after the departure of Lackey following the sixth frame.
With the loss, Charleston fell to 34-29, just a half-game ahead of the Lexington Legends which won its seventh straight game early Sunday afternoon.
Sunday evening’s contest was the second of four games this year that the RiverDogs become “Los Perros Santos de Charleston” in honor of Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversion. The team wore special jerseys and caps, and Dora the Explorer made an appearance to say hi to the youngsters in attendance. It was also another MUSC Health Family Sunday at The Joe, so all the kids enjoyed free food and got to run the bases after the game. Those who drove to the game were able to park for free as well.
After wrapping up the four-game set against the Asheville Tourists at Riley Park, the Dogs will head to Rome, Georgia for the last road series of the first half. Entering play Sunday, Rome was nine games under .500 with a 26-35 record and 7.5 games back of the first-place RiverDogs. One of Charleston’s two All-Star starting pitchers Luis Gil (2-3, 2.08) will toe the rubber in the series opener.