CHARLESTON, S.C. – One night removed from a narrow walk-off win over the Crawdads Thursday night, the RiverDogs scratched across just enough at the plate in a second consecutive 2-1 win against Hickory in the rubber match Friday evening in front of 5,412 at Joe Riley Park.
The Dogs (55-56, 18-23) did their damage early, plating both runs in the first three innings punctuated by Brandon Lockridge’s 12th long ball of the season, and just his second since the All-Star Break. The center fielder led off the bottom of the third against Hickory (66-40, 25-15) starter Ronny Henriquez (3-6, 4.66) and quickly fell into an 0-2 ditch.
Lockridge kept his cool and got around on a pitch to his liking, sending the 19-year-old’s offering over the left field wall to double Charleston’s lead, giving the Holy City a 2-0 lead. The solo shot was also the Troy product’s eighth home run of the season when leading off an inning, breaking a tie with Hickory’s Pedro Gonzalez for the league lead in that category.
Charleston broke the ice right away. Thursday night’s hero Oswald Peraza was struck by a 1-1 pitch after Lockridge fanned to begin the contest, and advanced to second on a walk issued to left fielder Canaan Smith. Following a strikeout by Josh Stowers, Peraza was able to score from second on a long single off the right field wall from the bat of Mickey Gasper.
The walk issued to Smith was just a small part of yet another standout performance at the plate by the Rockwall native. The left fielder threw out a pair of knocks to give him five consecutive games with multiple hits, and Smith now sports a .600 average (12-for-20) in that span. To take a look at the bigger picture, the former fourth-rounder is now hitting .417 (40-for-96) since the start of July spanning 29 games, leading the league in that span.
The triumphant trio of Yoendrys Gomez, Dalton Lehnen (4-1, 2.45) and Tanner Myatt made the slim lead stand through the final six frames. Gomez got the start for the Dogs, but lasted just 2 2/3 innings when he took a line drive from Miguel Aparicio off the palm of his pitching hand and needed to be removed.
Lehnen was called upon by skipper Julio Mosquera and pitched 4 1/3 beautiful frames allowing just a single marker on one hit and a walk, striking out five. The ‘Dads mustered just a single run for the second straight contest; their marker coming in the top of the fifth this time around. Catcher Matt Whatley led off the frame against Lehnen with a walk and eventually scored on a single by Frainyer Chavez.
Myatt sealed the win with two scoreless innings of his own, allowing just one hit and fanning two. The Florence-Darlington Tech product had struggled with command as of late, walking 18 in his last 8.0 innings pitched entering the homestand. Friday marked his first of 16 appearances on the season without issuing a walk.
With the conclusion of Friday night’s contest, RiverDogs pitching held Hickory’s lineup, which ranks in the top three in the SAL in hitting, slugging and OPS, to two runs over 18 innings to clinch the series win, Charleston’s first since June 24-26 when the Dogs took two of three from the Rome Braves.
The RiverDogs spent Friday night honoring those who have served, and still are serving, our country with the third Military Appreciation Night of the season at Joe Riley Park. Complimentary tickets were offered to local active and retired military members and their families, and fans who showed up wearing red to the game received a dollar off their tickets at the box office as part of another Boeing Red Shirt Friday. They then had the option to donate that dollar back to help out those servicemen and women. The first 2,500 through the gates also received a free Boeing camouflage hat. In accompaniment with the festivities, the RiverDogs put on another Home Telecom postgame fireworks display, with American-themed songs to complete the show.