ROME, GA – After a game that was scoreless for nine innings, something had to give way in extras on Monday night in the RiverDogs’ road trip opener. After seven brilliant innings from starter Luis Gil contending pitch-for-pitch with former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel as his opposite number, it would be the Rome Braves who broke through in extras, walking it off 1-0 over Charleston on Monday night at State Mutual Stadium.
Set to start the game on the mound in the upcoming South Atlantic League All-Star Game in West Virginia, Gil was spectacular in his 11th outing of the season with Charleston (34-30), going a career-long seven shutout innings and matching a professional best with 10 strikeouts to keep the Braves (27-36) off the board.
The only trouble the 21-year-old righty ran into came in the third, when he issued his only walk, a leadoff free pass to shortstop Carlos Paraguate to open the inning. After a single by Jeremy Fernandez two batters later put runners at first and second with one out, Gil coaxed a fielder’s choice ground ball out of Greg Cullen before striking out Logan Brown, his future catcher in the upcoming mid-summer classic, to send the Braves back to the field.
On the other end for Rome, Dallas Keuchel looked in the game-ready shape that he had stayed in during the season’s free agent freeze that had him without a contract since appearing in last year’s Game Three of the ALCS against Boston. The two-time All-Star faced two over the minimum during his seven scoreless frames, allowing just a one out single to Max Burt in the second and issuing a seven pitch walk to Canaan Smith in the seventh. He fanned nine RiverDogs and threw 77 pitches, 55 for strikes.
After a pair of scoreless frames apiece by Carlos Espinal (0-1) and Tanner Lawson (2-2) in relief, Charleston failed to score in the top of the tenth despite a free runner opening the inning on second base; Smith struck out before Navas was caught off of second base on a comebacker to the mound and Max Burt flied out to end the threat. With one out in the bottom half, third baseman Derian Cruz ripped a one-hopper that Burt took a misread step in on at third to skip by him for the walk-off hit.
The loss was Charleston’s sixth defeat and fourth in a row in seven extra inning games this year.
The contest was the first for the RiverDogs to go scoreless for nine consecutive innings since May 12, 2014 at The Joe; Charleston walked it off over Savannah on a Michael O’Neill bases loaded walk.
Making his RiverDogs debut less than 30 miles away from his hometown of Cartersville, GA, former first-round pick Anthony Seigler went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Keuchel before being lifted for Eduardo Navas in the ninth. He caught eight innings behind the plate and laced one of the hardest hit balls against the former Astro all night, lining out to left field to start the fourth.
The RiverDogs continue their three-game swing in Rome on Tuesday, sending All-Star right-hander Alexander Vizcaino (3-2, 3.16) to the mound. Rome will counter with southpaw Gabriel Noguera (2-3, 4.03). First pitch is at 7 p.m.