NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Three first-inning runs proved to be too large a deficit to overcome as the RiverDogs were downed 4-1 by the Augusta GreenJackets to even up the mid-week series at one game apiece on Tuesday evening at SRP Park.
Charleston (48-48, 11-15) starter Jhony Brito (3-3) was ambushed by the GreenJackets (49-45, 13-13) to the start the night before settling in for a quality start. Augusta collected four straight hits to open the night against Brito, none hit particularly hard, to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Third baseman Jacob Gonzalez followed Diego Rincone’s RBI single flared to right with a one-hop grounder to third that the Dogs infield nearly turned for a triple play. Gonzalez beat out Oliver Dunn’s return throw from second, allowing another chance that the Giants affiliate would cash in on. After a walk, center fielder Jose Layer kept a liner fair to right field to score Gonzalez and make it 3-0 ‘Jackets.
After the first frame, Brito allowed just one other baserunner the rest of the way, retiring 13 of the final 14 he faced down the stretch to go six innings, matching a career high. The 21-year-old Dominican, now a season and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, has logged a career-high 59 1/3 innings, all with the RiverDogs this year with an ERA of 2.88.
Charleston cut the Augusta lead to 3-1 when Brandon Lockridge plated Max Burt on a two-out, RBI single. The GreenJackets erased the marker with an insurance tally in the seventh off reliever Jefry Valdez, who worked the final two frames for the Holy City.
Right fielder Josh Stowers notched a pair of singles to extend his on-base streak to a season-high 12 games in a row. The RiverDogs offense collected just six hits on the night and has now scored fewer than three runs in 17 of their 26 games to open the second half. They had entered play ranking third to last in the South Atlantic League in hitting (.223) over that stretch, while ranking last in slugging percentage (.308) and home runs (6).
In the ninth, Stowers and Mateo each singled to bring the tying run to the plate, but pinch-hitter Canaan Smith struck out swinging against Jesus Tona, who secured his league-leading 16th save.