CHARLESTON, S.C. – The RiverDogs had plenty of chances to put Thursday night’s game out of reach, and shortstop Oswald Peraza finally delivered, producing the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to clinch a 2-1 win over the Hickory Crawdads in front of 3,668 at Joe Riley Park.
The late rally was sparked by two consecutive singles to lead off the frame by Eric Wagaman and Welfrin Mateo off Crawdads (66-39, 25-14) reliever Nick Snyder (3-3, 3.89). Backstop Eduardo Navas then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the winning run to third, but the air came out of the RiverDogs’ (54-56, 17-23) sails a bit when Eduardo Torrealba fanned on the eighth pitch of his at-bat, becoming the second out of the inning.
Hickory issued a free pass to Brandon Lockridge, instead opting to go after Peraza with the bases juiced and two outs. The Dogs shortstop fell into a quick 0-2 hole, and then lined the offering into shallow right-center field to send the Charleston faithful home with a 2-1 victory.
It was an old fashioned pitchers’ duel entering the fateful ninth, as Roansy Contreras and Grant Wolfram went toe-to-toe for five innings. The RiverDogs starter began his night setting down the first nine Crawdads he faced before running into trouble in the fourth inning. Hickory sent six men to the plate against Contreras, but the hurler kept his cool and limited the damage to just a sacrifice fly produced by Kole Enright to plate Melvin Novoa, who doubled with one out.
Charleston got the run right back in bottom half, when the Dogs made Wolfram pay for a walk he surrendered to speedy outfielder Josh Stowers. Wagaman lined a 1-1 pitch down the left field line, and Stowers, coming off a two-steal game Wednesday night and bringing 26 stolen bases into Thursday’s action, scored standing up from first base.
No other tallies would be scored, but outfielder Canaan Smith continued his torrid stretch after leading the league in hitting and on-base percentage in the month of July with three more knocks, including his 25th and 26th double of the season. The Rockwall, Texas native now has posted four consecutive multi-hit games, including two straight three-hit contests.
Contreras’ night would end following six dominant innings, having allowed just the one run on two hits and one walk. He fanned five, and has now thrown five or more innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed in six consecutive starts, owning a 2.38 ERA in that span.
Southpaw Tim Hardy (1-0, 3.86) came out of the bullpen, and picked up right where Contreras left off. He faced one over the minimum during his three innings of work, allowing just a walk and a double with three strikeouts to put a bow on Thursday night’s contest.
Thursday night marked the second-to-last Budweiser Thirsty Thursday of the 2019 season, so the masses flocked to Riley Park in honor of the occasion. Beers were available for purchase to those in attendance for just $1 up on the Ashley View Pub, and fans hung out and played relaxing outside party games, like Giant Jenga and cornhole.