CHARLESTON, S.C. – Fresh off being held to just two runs over the last two games, outfielder Josh Stowers provided the only offense in the second four-hit game by a RiverDog this season in the series opener Friday night, as the Dogs were tamed by the Kannapolis Intimidators 4-2 in front of 5,311 at Riley Park.
The RiverDogs (67-63, 30-30) were as close as two games behind the Southern Division-leading Asheville Tourists as recently as August 14, but have slipped down in the standings a bit since. Charleston benefitted from the Greenville Drive’s 11-1 thrashing of the Tourists Friday night, though, remaining four games back of first place with 10 to play.
With its playoff hopes eroding away by the day, the RiverDogs needed a strong bounce back outing from its starter Charlie Ruegger, who had fought through a rough couple of outings entering his fourth start of the season with Charleston. In his previous two outings, the righty allowed 18 total runs in just 6 1/3 innings of work in Hickory and Asheville.
Ruegger inspired confidence early with a lockdown top of the first, fanning a pair of Kannapolis (57-71, 29-31) hitters in the process. He eventually finished his night with four innings pitched and two runs allowed on two hits and three walks. He fanned four total Intimidators, tying a season-high.
Southpaw Dalton Lehnen (4-3, 2.94), relieving Ruegger in the fifth inning, was victimized by the Intimidators lineup immediately upon entering the contest. He fell behind Alex Destino 1-0 before serving up a no-doubt solo shot off the batter’s eye in straightaway center field for his 15th of the season. Kannapolis took retook the lead 3-2 and didn’t look back.
Lehnen settled in following the leadoff blast, setting down nine of the next ten hitters he faced before being bitten by the long ball once more. First baseman Corey Zangari teed off on the first pitch of the eighth inning, sending it over the left field wall, doubling Kannapolis’ lead.
The Intimidators drew first blood in the top of the third inning against Ruegger, on a two run triple down the right field line by Tyler Osik, his first three-bagger of the season. The RiverDogs clapped back in the bottom half with a two-run single by Stowers, part of his first career four-hit night. Charleston was unable to take the lead and support Lehnen offensively before the left-hander gave up his fourth and fifth long balls of the season.
Declan Cronin (1-2, 3.86) and Lane Ramsey made the lead stand up for the White Sox affiliate throughout their five combined innings out of the Intimidators’ bullpen, holding Charleston to just three hits while setting five down on strikes. Charleston made some noise against Kannapolis’ closer Austin Conway, striking for a pair of hits, but Eduardo Torrealba was called out on strike three to end the ballgame.
Fans received a blast from the past after the game, as everyone’s favorite Woodstock classics overlaid the Home Telecom fireworks show Friday night after the final out was recorded. From the Grateful Dead to Jimi Hendrix, those who stuck around after the game sung along to well-known songs from the festival in honor of its 50th anniversary. The spectacle punctuated another Boeing Red Shirt Friday at The Joe, and the fans who showed up wearing red were able to buy tickets at the box office with a $1 discount. They could then donate that dollar back to help out local active and retired military members and their families.