CHARLESTON, S.C. – The RiverDogs received a career night from starter Jhony Brito, but their offensive struggles continued in game two of the series, falling 2-1 to the Kannapolis Intimidators Saturday night in front of 4,448 at Riley Park.
Brito (6-4, 3.29) was phenomenal on a night the Dogs (67-64, 30-31) needed a win to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt. Entering the contest four games back of the division-leading Asheville Tourists, Charleston whiffed on an opportunity to take advantage of Asheville’s Friday night loss. Even with a late Josh Stowers homer, the RiverDogs have still plated just six runs in their last 43 innings, and have gone four consecutive contests without scoring more than two tallies.
The Charleston righty began the night with perfect first and second frames, striking out three of the first six he faced. The Intimidators’ (58-71, 30-31) hurler Sam Long (8-5, 3.06) did the same, albeit without the punchouts, to send the game scoreless to the top of the third inning.
Ramon Beltre led off the frame with a double that the third baseman poked past first baseman Eric Wagaman down the right field line for his 23rd two-bagger of the season. Michael Hickman, making his first start of the series, lined a fly ball deep enough to right field to allow Beltre to tag up and advance to third. Amado Nunez was next, and he worked ahead in the count 1-0 before lining Brito’s next offering out to left field. Beltre again tagged up and came in to score the game’s first run. Brito was unfazed by the early tally, inducing a groundout from Ian Dawkins to end the frame.
The tally was all Long needed, as he sailed right through the his next four frames without a hitch. He struck out the side in the fourth, and set down the first 18 Charleston hitters in a row before the Dogs finally mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Brandon Lockridge spoiled Long’s attempt at perfection with a flare single that dropped in front of Alex Destino in right field. Oswald Peraza hit a grounder to short on which Kannapolis was able to force Lockridge at second, but Peraza was too quick to be doubled up. The infielder went 0-for-4 Saturday night and saw a 26-game on-base streak snapped. Josh Stowers followed with a bloop single of his own, but Long kept his cool and struck out Josh Breaux and Eric Wagaman with runners on second and third to escape the threat.
After allowing the early marker to Kannapolis, Brito settled back in and allowed just one more hit through his next five innings. The other hit the righty yielded was by Lenyn Sosa leading off the fourth, though he was eventually erased on a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Brito received the handshake that ended his night after completing eight dominant frames, marking a new career-high for the right hander. He faced just one batter over the minimum and struck out a season-high seven hitters. He also turned in his ninth outing of the season without a free pass issued.
Charleston plated their only run of the night in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Stowers stepped to the plate with two outs. He crushed Devon Perez’s first offering over the left field scoreboard for his seventh homer of the year. The long ball broke a stretch of 226 plate appearances without a home run for the Louisville product. Josh Breaux followed the blast with an infield single, but Eric Wagaman flew out to center field to end the game.