CHARLESTON, S.C. – The RiverDogs came up one win shy of a three-game and season-series sweep of the West Virginia Power Thursday night, as Charleston fell 6-1 to the Mariners affiliate with 5,248 in attendance at Riley Park.
Charleston (67-62, 30-29) settles for the series win with the defeat in the finale, and still took the season series against the Power five games to one. With Asheville’s 3-0 win over the Augusta GreenJackets, though, Charleston falls to four games back of the Southern-leading Tourists with 11 games to play in their late bid for a playoff spot.
Yoendrys Gomez picked up where Josh Maciejewski left off Wednesday night, as game three had the makings of a pitchers’ duel early on. The righty fanned Billy Cooke as part of a perfect top of the first inning. West Virginia’s (64-65, 27-32) hurler Josias De Los Santos worked himself into trouble in the bottom of the first, issuing two free passes after striking out the first two RiverDogs, but induced a flyout from Eric Wagaman to escape the jam.
Following a scoreless second and third authored by Gomez, designated hitter Josh Breaux worked his way into a favorable 2-0 count with two outs in the bottom of the third. He sent the following pitch over the left field wall to break the ice, marking his 10th home run of the season.
Because of an 81-day stay on the Injured List, the solo shot marked Breaux’s first home run within the confines of Riley Park since May 20. His blast also marked his third since returning from the IL August 10.
De Los Santos shrugged off the blast, setting down seven of the final nine hitters he faced before being relieved by Reeves Martin (3-0, 2.14) in the sixth inning.
Gomez, meanwhile, ran with the lead for the next two frames, setting down six in a row between the fourth and fifth innings, before losing Manny Pazos on balls. Cooke laid down a great bunt down the first base line to advance the tying run to second base, and the Power backstop moved to third on a deep fly ball to right field from Caleb Ricca.
An out of any kind would free Gomez from the threat, but his first pitch to Bobby Honeyman got by his catcher, allowing Martin to trot home, knotting the game up at one. The errant offering was Charleston’s 140th of the season, marking a new franchise record in the dubious category and breaking the 1996 RiverDogs’ previous hold on the record.
In his best start since a call up from Pulaski, Gomez was lifted in prior to the start of the seventh inning, but turned in six stellar frames of one-run ball. He yielded just one hit, and his eight strikeouts tied a career-high.
Unfortunately for the playoff-hopeful Dogs, the Power had all the momentum and the wheels came off in the seventh. A leadoff double by Matt Sanders off reliever Keegan Curtis (2-1, 1.59) and a base on balls drawn by Onil Pena had the go-ahead and insurance runs on base. A groundout by Charlie McConnell advanced Sanders to third, but the Charleston defense forced Pena out at second.
A slow tapper off the bat of Nick Rodriguez that wasn’t fielded by third baseman Welfrin Mateo plated Sanders, and the Power took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. West Virginia scored its second run of the frame on a bases-loaded walk to Cooke, which forced McConnell in.
The Power scored three more times in the eighth, on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez and a two-run triple by DeAires Moses to extend their lead to 6-1.
With the beginning of the next school year right around the corner, the RiverDogs honored students from the nearby College of Charleston during the final Budweiser Thirsty Thursday of the season. Many of those who came out for the series finale flocked up to the Ashley View Pub and enjoyed $1 beers, but there was also a special twist. As part of Get Wiggy With It Night at The Joe, fans who showed up wearing a wig were able to purchase $5 tickets at the box office. For those who didn’t have a wig or left theirs at home, plenty were available on AVP. The RiverDogs capped off the night by celebrating the transformation of Charleston’s Westside from trash dump to treasure with the new WestEdge development.