CHARLESTON, S.C. – It didn’t take long for the Dogs to continue their offensive outburst from Sunday evening, as Canaan Smith ripped a two-run homer as part of a big first inning to lead Charleston to a 5-3 win over the West Virginia Power Tuesday night in front of 2,883 at Joe Riley Park.
Brandon Lockridge forced seven pitches out of West Virginia (63-64, 26-31) starter Evan Johnson (0-4, 5.26) in his first-inning plate appearance, eventually reaching first base safely with a leadoff walk. Smith stepped to the plate following a 10-pitch at-bat that culminated in a lineout to left field off the bat of Oswald Peraza. With nine homers to his name entering Tuesday night, Smith coaxed five offerings from Johnson before lining the 2-2 pitch off the right-center field videoboard, staking the Dogs (65-62, 28-29) out to an early 2-0 lead.
With the long ball, Smith set himself up to be the sixth player in Charleston’s franchise history to post a .300 batting average, slug at least 10 homers and swipe double-digit bags in the same season. Only Tyler Austin, Delmon Young, Josh Hamilton, Fernando Tatis and Cliff Pastornicky have previously accomplished the feat.
The Dogs weren’t done after Smith’s shot, tacking on two more on Josh Stowers’ 20th double of the season, plating Josh Breaux, and an RBI single from Oliver Dunn. Breaux, serving as the designated hitter, was perfect at the plate Tuesday night, going 1-for-1 with a double and a career-high three walks; the Texas product had walked just five times in his first 38 games to start the year. In the process, Charleston chased Johnson from the contest after the Power hurler retired just two hitters. Ben Onyshko came on in relief and struck out Eduardo Navas, the eighth batter of the frame, to end the lengthy inning.
The crooked number followed a clean, 1-2-3 top of the first authored by Roansy Contreras (10-5, 3.59), making his first start since fanning 10 Columbia Fireflies in a career-high seven innings August 14. Contreras fought through a tougher second, when he faced six Power hitters and allowed two runs on the games’s second two-run bomb, this one off the bat of catcher Dean Nevarez.
The righty shook off the unsteady frame, finishing his night with three perfect innings out of his final four and setting down 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced. He received the handshake from his skipper with just the two runs allowed on three hits and a walk, adding five strikeouts to his line. The contest marked another strong outing in a stretch of remarkable starts for Contreras, as the right-hander has now pitched at least five innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine consecutive starts. Overall, Contreras now sports a 2.04 ERA in those nine outings since June 29.
Charleston plated its final run in the bottom of the fifth inning, when a pair of wild pitches uncorked by Onyshko aided Peraza to come around, who singled with one out in the fifth and advanced to second base on a groundout by Smith.
Lefty Tim Hardy relieved Contreras in the top of the seventh and worked a scoreless seventh and eighth while yielding just one hit before running into trouble in the top of the ninth. West Virginia manufactured a run on the strength of back-to-back singles by Matt Sanders and Nick Rodriguez, and a pair of long fly ball outs brought Sanders home via a sacrifice fly from Charlie McConnell. Hardy kept his cool, though, and whiffed Onil Pena representing the tying run to seal the win and nail down his first save of the season.
Charleston moved to 4-0 this season against the Power, building on a three-game sweep of the Mariners affiliate back in mid-May.
To kick off the second-to-last homestand of the season, the RiverDogs spent Tuesday night honoring the best of what Charleston has to offer. Everything from local attractions to restaurants were recognized in the night-long celebration of the Dogs’ host city as part of “Best of Charleston” night in union with Charleston City Paper. Joe Riley Park also transformed into a farmers’ market as part of another Food Lion Live and Local Tuesday. Fans were treated to a variety of different displays set up on the concourse, and enjoyed the RiverDogs BellyItcher Ale, Tuesday night’s featured beverage, brewed in conjunction with Rusty Bull.