CHARLESTON, S.C. – Following an explosive victory in the series opener Tuesday night, the fourth inning in Wednesday’s afternoon tilt downed the Dogs as Charleston fell 4-3 to the Rome Braves in game two of the series with 4,556 in attendance at Joe Riley Park.
Most of the scoring through the first two games had been via the crooked numbers, with the eight-run sixth frame for Charleston (46-44, 9-11) and the five-run eighth for Rome (41-48, 11-9) Tuesday night, and Wednesday was no exception. All four of the Braves’ runs came in the top of the fifth inning, knocking a previously-solid Jhony Brito (3-2, 2.70) out of his rhythm.
Brito, making his first start of the year for Charleston after appearing out of the bullpen 13 times this season, was solid through the first four frames before being ambushed in the fifth. The Braves hitters attacked Brito early in the count, and were rewarded for it. Griffin Benson, Greg Cullen and Ricardo Rodriguez greeted Charleston’s righty with three straight singles on eight total pitches to load the bases with nobody out.
Braulio Vasquez swung at the second pitch he saw and grounded the 1-0 offering to Welfrin Mateo at third base, who made the clean throw home to get the force out on Benson. Jose Bermudez picked up his teammate after the fielder’s choice and lined the first pitch of his at bat past the dive of Eric Wagaman at first base to clear the bases for a three-run triple. Justin Dean, also on the first pitch from Brito, drove the ball out to right field deep enough for Bermudez to score to give his club a 4-2 lead.
Charleston got on the board first for the second straight game, and just the sixth time since the All-Star Break, in the bottom of the second inning. Stowers led the frame off with a single and scored all the way from first base on Wagaman’s double, aided by a miscue in left field by Bermudez. Mateo drove in Charleston’s second run with a sacrifice fly that plated Wagaman later in the inning.
The double was part of a three-hit game for Wagaman, the second in as many games for the Charleston first baseman. Since returning from the 7-Day Injured List on the 4th of July, Wagaman has made his presence felt. The California native has earned 10 hits in 20 at bats with two walks and a homer in that span.
Charleston added another tally in the fifth after the Braves rally on a groundout by Canaan Smith, but the Dogs weren’t able to scratch any more across against Gabriel Noguera (3-4, 3.39), Luis Mora and Jake Higginbotham.
Daniel Bies came out of the bullpen in relief of Brito, and fanned six Braves in three perfect innings, but his effort was for naught as the Braves staff silenced Charleston’s bats after the fifth.
The Wednesday matinee start time gave way for Splash Day at Riley Park. Kiddie pools with water balloons and squirt guns were available and heavily used throughout the ballpark as The Joe transformed into a water park for the day. The afternoon was completed by a fire hose set up down the third base line near the main gate, spraying water for all the youngsters in attendance to run through.