Late Comeback Ends on Warning Track in 6-5 Loss to Columbia
Charleston, SC - The Columbia Fireflies staved off a furious comeback from the Charleston RiverDogs to emerge with a 6-5 win on Saturday night at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. The teams played a single nine-inning game in front of 2,800 fans instead of the scheduled doubleheader after weather postponed the first pitch by over two hours. The other game will be rescheduled for a later date when Columbia returns to the Holy City. The loss snapped the RiverDogs winning streak at seven games.
Trailing 6-2 entering their final at bat, the RiverDogs (54-22) began the final inning facing reliever Chase Wallace. Alexander Ovalles opened the frame with an infield single. Wallace came back to strike out Matt Dyer for the first out of the inning before Michael Berglund walked and pinch-hitter Jonathan Embry singled to load the bases. A passed ball plus a throwing error by catcher Felix Familia allowed two runs to score. With a runner now on third, Wisely rolled a ball to short to drive in another run as the throw from Herard Gonzalez sailed wide. The error put the tying run on base as Columbia called on Ismael Aquino out of the bullpen.
With a 2-2 count on Osleivis Basabe, Aquino left with an injury and was replaced by Walter Pennington. Wisely stole second base, but Basabe bounced to third on a 3-2 pitch and Heriberto Hernandez’s deep fly ball was tracked down on the warning track to end the game. Columbia (37-39) built a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Jean Ramirez’s bunt single was followed by a Matt Schmidt double. Diego Hernandez drove in a run and reached on an error by Dyer at first base in the next at bat, giving the Fireflies the early leg up.
A safety squeeze was executed by Tyler Tolbert moments later to double the lead. The Fireflies loaded the bases with no outs against Luis Moncada in the fourth. Gage Hughes drove in one with a fielder’s choice groundball to short and Ramirez plated another run via safety squeeze to make it 4-0. In the sixth, Herard Gonzalez’s two-out fly ball to right field dropped between a pair of outfielders, allowing two more runs to score and giving Columbia a 6-0 cushion.
Charleston began their comeback with an RBI double from Michael Berglund in the seventh and a run-scoring single from Hernandez in the eighth. Each team finished with 11 hits. Columbia’s Kale Emshoff went 4-5 to lead all hitters. The RiverDogs received two hits from Hernandez, Ovalles and Dyer. Moncada took the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings. Neraldo Catalina had tough luck in allowing two runs in 1.2 frames. He walked three and surrendered two hits. Graeme Stinson finished off the night with 2.1 scoreless innings.
On Olympics Night at The Joe, Debbie Antonelli through out a ceremonial first pitch as a representative for Special Olympics South Carolina. Antonelli is a college basketball analyst for CBS and ESPN and began the 24-hour “Nothing but Net” free throw marathon in which she shot 100 free throws every hour for a full day. COVID-19 forced her to host the event in her driveway, but she proceeded to raise over $125,000 for Special Olympics.
The series concludes on Sunday evening with a single game beginning at 5:05 p.m. LHP Jose Lopez (3-5, 5.19) will start the finale for the RiverDogs while RHP C.J. Eldred will take his turn in the rotation for Columbia.