CHARLESTON, S.C. – Fans were treated to an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in game two of the series Wednesday night, as Josh Maciejewski hurled eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the West Virginia Power in front of 3,905 at Joe Riley Park.
In just his third start with the RiverDogs (66-62, 29-29) this season, Maciejewski (2-1, 1.35) was nearly untouchable. Fresh off a brief two-game stint with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, the southpaw struck out the newly called-up Caleb Ricca as part of a perfect first inning.
He yielded leadoff baserunners in each of the next three innings, on an error by Welfrin Mateo at third base in the top of the second, a free pass issued to Onil Pena in the third, and a single by Ricca. Maciejewski kept his cool, though, retiring the next three hitters in each frame, including a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Dean Nevarez in the second.
Unfortunately for Maciejewski, former Yankee farmhand and West Virginia (63-65, 26-32) starter Juan Then (0-1, 1.50) was equally impressive, matching the southpaw pitch-for-pitch through the first four innings. Then, making his South Atlantic League debut, needed just 13 pitches in the first inning, seven in the second, and eight in each of the next two to set down the first 12 Charleston hitters of the night, whiffing three in the process.
Nick Rodriguez lined a double off the left field wall off the RiverDogs lefty in the top of the 5th with two away, but Maciejewski induced a groundout from Manny Pazos on the very next pitch to wriggle his way out of the minor jam. Charleston was finally able to take advantage of the momentum from its starter in the home half.
The RiverDogs earned their first baserunner of the night in the bottom of the fifth, when Josh Breaux drew his fourth walk in two games, coming off a career-high three-walk night in the series opener Tuesday night. Then came back and fanned the next two Dogs, before Oliver Dunn singled to left field, forcing Breaux to second.
Mateo stepped in to follow Dunn, and lined an 0-1 pitch in front of Nick Rodriguez in right field, plating Breaux for what would eventually mark the only run of the game. Then escaped the inning catching Ryan Lidge looking at strike three.
Maciejewski took the lead and didn’t look back, firing three more perfect innings and striking out two more along the way. When he was eventually lifted in favor of Carlos Espinal in the ninth inning, Maciejewski finished with eight shutout innings under his belt, the longest start by a RiverDogs hurler this season. His seven strikeouts tied a career-high he set earlier this season with the Staten Island Yankees.
Espinal threw a perfect ninth, sealing the series win and his team-leading fifth save of the season. The contest finished in a brisk one hour and 59 minutes, Charleston’s shortest game of the season by time, and the quickest RiverDogs game since the Holy City finished brief 1 hour and 54 minute game April 29, 2018 on the road against Greensboro. It was the shortest nine-inning contest at Riley Park since August 22, 2006, when Charleston finished in one hour and 55 minutes against Savannah.
The RiverDogs continued their longest remaining homestand of the season by honoring those who serve their communities as part of local fire departments on Firefighter Night at the Joe presented by ServiceMaster. Fans also had the chance to take pictures in front of a fire truck outside the park as they made their way in, and were treated to a mid-game t-shirt toss from a pair of trucks that drove around the warning track. It was another Senior Wednesday at the Joe as well, and those in attendance 65 years old and older enjoyed free food before 7 p.m. and strolled the bases after the game.