GREENVILLE, S.C. - Center fielder Brandon Lockridge cleared the bases for a game-tying double in the eighth inning before first baseman Eric Wagaman completed his triumphant return with a go-ahead, game-winning single in the ninth as the RiverDogs scored five unanswered to spoil the Drive's Independence Day festivities with an 8-7 win on Thursday night at Fluor Field.
Charleston's (43-42, 7-8) eighth-inning rally all started with Wagaman, who looked fresh after a minor league rehab assignment and nearly two months on the RiverDogs seven-day injured list with an ankle injury sustained in a May 9 contest stepping into second against Columbia. The lanky Californian was a welcome presence to the maligned Charleston lineup, walking for the second time in the game in the eighth on a night when he would reach in four of five trips, also doubling in a pair for his first hit to give the RiverDogs a brief 2-1 lead in the third.
After Wagaman's base on balls, Kyle Gray drew one of his own two batters later to put a pair aboard for Frederick Cuevas. The Dogs' designated hitter bounced a routine grounder to short that second baseman Everlouis Lozada threw away on a routine flip to second to load up the bases and give the RiverDogs an extra opportunity they wouldn't miss on. With new reliever Kris Jackson freshly entered into the game, third baseman Welfrin Mateo worked a full count before drawing the third walk of the inning. Lockridge stepped up and crushed the first pitch he saw from Jackson down the third base line for a double into the corner that pulled the Dogs back even at seven apiece.
In the ninth, right fielder Josh Stowers provided the spark, singling on a 2-2 pitch back up the box before using his wheels to burn Greenville (38-47, 6-9). The second rounder scampered up to second on a pitch in the dirt dealt by Jackson before stealing third base. With a 2-1 count in his favor, Wagaman simply put the ball in play up the middle past the drawn in infield to score Stowers and give the Dogs their first lead since the third, capping the RiverDogs' biggest comeback win of the season after they had trailed 7-3 after seven and 6-2 after six.
Southpaw Dalton Lehnen (1-0) recorded four outs in the pressure cooker to garner the win, dealing with plenty of adversity in the final frame. After coaxing a pop out from Tyler Esplin, he was able to generate a sharp ground ball to first out of the Red Sox's top prospect, Triston Casas, that Wagaman hustled to the bag for a potential unassisted putout that looked routine. What would have been the second out was deemed a safe call by the umpiring crew, leading to a furious protest by Charleston manager Julio Mosquera, who threw his batting helmet down the infield and kicked a pile of dirt over home plate after being ejected for the first time this season. Lehnen would go on to induce a fielder's choice ground out from Devlin Granberg and a strikeout of Kole Cottam to finish off the one-run victory.
With his game-tying two-bagger in the eighth, Lockridge finished the night with his third multi-hit effort in the last four games and now leads the RiverDogs with 40 RBI on the season. His 23 doubles lead all Yankees minor leaguers.
With a leadoff home run in the seventh, Mateo extended his hitting streak to 10 straight, a run that pulled Charleston briefly within three before a pair of base hits, including an RBI tally by Cottam, pushed the Greenville lead back out to four in the bottom half.