HICKORY, N.C. – Shortstop Eduardo Torrealba cracked a two-run, second-inning single that proved to be all the RiverDogs would need as Charleston leaned on six superb innings from starter Harold Cortijo in a 2-1 victory over the Hickory Crawdads in Thursday’s second-half opener from L.P. Frans Stadium.
With the help of Torrealba’s run-scoring knock, the Charleston (38-33, 1-0) lineup went a perfect 4-for-4 in the game’s second frame to plate a pair, in part because of two outs on the bases that limited the damage for Hickory (41-26, 0-1). Infielders Kyle Gray and Welfrin Mateo roped back-to-back singles to open the frame and were bunted over on a sacrifice by right fielder Omar Carrizales before each scored on Torrealba’s base knock. On the same play, Torrealba was nabbed trying to stretch the play for a double, running into the second out of the inning. Brandon Lockridge reached on a swinging bunt to keep the inning alive but was thrown out attempting to steal second to end to the threat.
The pair of runs were all that Cortijo (2-0) would need as the 20-year-old was terrific in his third start of the year for the Dogs. The Maryland prep product twirled six innings of one-run baseball, using three strikeouts to navigate around a pair of walks and six total baserunners. He was aided by some great defense behind him, including catcher Anthony Seigler going 2-for-2 in throwing out baserunners from behind the plate, including erasing what could have been the game’s tying run in the third when left fielder Kole Enright homered later in the inning, his second of the season in 11 games with the Crawdads. Seigler, the Yankees’ first-round pick and 23rd overall selection in last year’s draft, finished 1-for-4 at the plate on his 20th birthday; he is now 3-for-4 in throwing out runners in a handful of opportunities behind the plate with Charleston.
After Cortijo departed throwing 83 pitches, Aaron McGarity worked around baserunners in the seventh and eighth to keep Charleston’s lead intact. The Virginia Tech product’s most impressive vanishing act came in the seventh, when he struck out pinch-hitter Melvin Novoa to leave two runners on behind him to end the inning. McGarity punched out reigning South Atlantic League Home Run Derby champion Curtis Terry with a fastball looking in the eighth, much to the chagrin of the 260-plus pound behemoth, who took offense to the call from home plate umpire Colin Baron and let him hear it on his way back to the dugout.
After allowing a leadoff single to first baseman Sherton Apostel to begin the ninth, McGarity was lifted by Julio Mosquera for Ron Marinaccio. The New Jersey native allowed a two-out single to catcher Matt Whatley to keep Hickory’s hopes alive but struck out Jose Almonte swinging to finish off the one-run victory, good for his second save in three appearances.
RiverDogs pitchers have now allowed just 30 runs in their last 13 games, the fewest in the league over that span. It was the sixth time that the RiverDogs held their opponent to one run or fewer in that stretch.
After collecting a hit in an All-Star start in left field on Tuesday, Canaan Smith went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in his first game after the break.
The RiverDogs continue their opening series of the second-half on Friday night in Hickory, sending fire-balling right-hander Luis Medina (1-4, 7.43) to the bump. The 20-year-old hurler is coming off two of his best career starts back-to-back, having allowed just two runs over his previous 11.0 innings; after fanning a career-best 10 batters on June 7 against Asheville, he blanked the Greenville Drive over a career-long six innings, needing only three strikeouts this past Thursday at The Joe. Hickory will throw right-hander Tim Brennan (5-2, 4.12) in opposition. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m.