RiverDogs Sneak by Augusta 6-5 for Fourth Straight Win
Charleston, SC — The Augusta GreenJackets finished Thursday night’s game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park with a position player on the mound. Cody Birdsong didn’t come on to pitch due to a one-sided score, but because Augusta ran out of available relief pitchers. In the end, the RiverDogs held on through several anxious moments late in the game to emerge with a 6-5 victory, the team’s 43rd of the season. The game was played in front of a Thirsty Thursday crowd of 4,213.
Birdsong, the starter at third base in Tuesday’s series-opener, was called into the game from the bullpen with two outs and the bases empty in the eighth inning with the RiverDogs holding a 6-5 advantage. His presence on the mound was required after the GreenJackets used seven pitchers on Wednesday night and had already burned through four in the previous innings in this contest. Birdsong retired the only batter he faced and could have become the winning pitcher if Augusta rallied to take the lead in the ninth inning.
The GreenJackets (28-34) tried their best to make that happen in the final frame. Cam Shepherd singled into left field with one out and moved to second when Cade Bunnell worked a walk with two outs. With the tying run in scoring position, Jose Lopez struck out Braulio Vasquez to finish off a 3.0 inning save. The lefty did not allow a run and struck out six while scattering three hits.
The contest featured several early home runs to get the scoring started. Bunnell launched his ninth home run of the season on the first pitch of the game to give Augusta an early leg up. However, Johan Lopez countered with a three-run home run in the bottom of the second to hand the RiverDogs (43-18) a lead they would not relinquish. Victor De Hoyos added a solo blast of his own at the outset of the fifth inning to reduce the Augusta deficit to 3-2.
The teams traded runs over the next two trips to the plate for both sides. The RiverDogs built the lead to three in the bottom of the fifth by scoring one run on a passed ball and another on a successful double steal with runners on the corners. Each team scored a run in the sixth inning, to make it a 6-3 game. In the top of the seventh, Bunnell ripped a two-out, two-run triple to the gap in right center that pulled the GreenJackets within one. Lopez struck out Vasquez with the tying run on third base to end that threat as well.
The RiverDogs were outhit 7-5 by Augusta in the game. Johan Lopez and Bunnell each finished with three runs batted in. Charleston set a new season-high by stealing seven bases. Brett Wisely was responsible for four of them.
Ben Brecht earned the win by allowing two runs over 5.0 innings of work as the starting pitcher. He allowed just two hits, both of them solo home runs. Neraldo Catalina allowed three runs on two hits and a pair of walks in his lone inning on the mound.
The RiverDogs encouraged fans to stay hydrated on this mid-July Budweiser Thirsty Thursday. One unique way in which the team made that effort included a head-to-head battle where participants tried to “shotgun” two cans of water faster than their adversary. The crowd was delighted when a young woman upstaged her male counterpart.
The series rolls along with game four on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. RHP Seth Johnson (3-3, 4.30) will be on the mound for the RiverDogs. Augusta will turn to RHP Roddery Munoz (1-1, 7.13) as they look for their first win of the series.