Charleston Takes Control Early to Even Series vs. Lexington

Smith drives in three, Ruegger dominates in relief

Charleston Takes Control Early to Even Series vs. Lexington
Canaan Smith drove in three as part of a two-hit night to lead the way for a 5-1 RiverDogs win Friday night. (Photo Credit: Michael Wiser)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – After falling in the suspended series opener that resumed Friday evening before game two, the RiverDogs brushed themselves off and took the nightcap 5-1 with 4,602 strong in attendance at Riley Park.

Charleston (49-50, 12-17) tagged Lexington (49-48, 12-16) starter Yohanse Morel (1-3, 6.68) for five early runs through the first three innings, highlighted by a three-run double off the right field wall by left fielder Canaan Smith. Morel, who entered the night with a solid 27:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, didn’t exhibit command issues as he allowed just two free passes in his brief four-inning outing. Welfrin Mateo fanned to begin the top of the second inning, but the next three Charleston hitters reached against the Legends starter, on a walk by Oliver Dunn, a single by Max Burt and a fielder’s choice grounded into by Eduardo Torrealba bobbled by the shortstop to set the table for Smith.

Canaan worked his way into a favorable 2-0 hitter’s count, and lined the offering deep to right field and off the top of the wall to clear the bases and extend the Dogs’ lead to 4-0. Charleston cracked the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first, on an RBI double by Mickey Gasper that plated Smith.

The RiverDogs grabbed one more in the bottom of the third inning to answer the Legends’ lone run that scored on a wild pitch thrown by starter Luis Gil. Welfrin Mateo lined an RBI double to right field, a knock that would cap the scoring for the remainder of the contest.

Charlie Ruegger (2-0, 5.74) entered the game in relief of Gil in the top of the fourth and worked a groundout from Rubendy Jaquez on just two pitches to escape a two-on jam left by the RiverDogs starter. Gil had walked the first two Legends he faced in the frame, but left on a high note after he retired Chase Vallot on strikes and Jeison Guzman on a flyout to Brandon Lockridge in center field.

Ruegger outdueld Lexington reliever Bryce Hensley throughout the rest of the contest, as he fired 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in total with three strikeouts. He did not issue a free pass. Hensely also impressed out of the bullpen for the Legends, throwing four innings of one-hit ball as well, with one strikeout and no walks.

Mickey Gasper, in his return to Charleston after Eduardo Navas was placed on the IL, went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and a run scored before being removed due to injury and replaced by Anthony Seigler behind the dish.

Though Friday night did not count as an official doubleheader, it marked the first time Charleston earned a win on a day during which it played more than one game. The RiverDogs were 0-6 in three previous doubleheaders this season. The victory also evened the series after Charleston went down quietly to conclude the suspended series opener from Thursday night, falling 3-2.

Ballpark Fun

Those who stuck around after the conclusion of Thursday night’s series opener were treated to a postgame Home Telecom fireworks display as part of another Boeing Red Shirt Friday at Riley Park. Fans who came through the gates wearing red also received a dollar off their grandstand ticket price, and had the option to donate that dollar to help local active and retired military members and their families.

Upcoming

After the 1 ½ game twin bill Friday night, Charleston will send Alexander Vizcaino (4-5, 4.56) to the bump in game three of the series Saturday evening. The righty, who will be making his second start against the Legends this season, last faced Lexington on May 30 in a 7-3 road victory. He threw 6 solid frames, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts. The Legends will counter with Zach Haake (3-5, 3.02), coming off a brief outing against the Rome Braves in which he surrendered four runs on seven hits in four innings of work. Haake will be facing the Holy City for the first time this season.