RiverDogs Win Sixth Straight, Move Closer to Securing Postseason Berth
Columbia, SC - The Charleston RiverDogs made history and placed themselves on the verge of securing a spot in the Low-A East Championship series with an 11-1 win over the Columbia Fireflies at Segra Park on Friday night. The victory ensured that this season’s team will finish with the highest winning percentage in Charleston baseball history. In addition, the RiverDogs can clinch a berth in the postseason with a victory on Saturday and losses by both Carolina and Down East.
The onslaught began in the opening frame for a third night in a row. Diego Infante doubled to right with out in the first inning and scored moments later on Tanner Murray’s RBI single to center field. Murray moved to second on an error by center fielder Diego Hernandez on the same play and scored when Alexander Ovalles lined a base hit through the left side to give the RiverDogs (75-31) a 2-0 lead.
The first of two big innings for the RiverDogs occurred in the fourth. The frame began with three consecutive singles, the last of which was Patrick Merino’s line drive over a drawn-in defense that plated two runs. With two outs, Osleivis Basabe added two more runs with a double that increased the lead to 6-0. Basabe scored on a wild pitch in the following at-bat as the gap widened to 7-0.
Columbia (47-59) scored their only run of the contest in the bottom of the fifth inning. Herard Gonzalez and Felix Familia opened the attack with back-to-back singles off of RiverDogs starter Seth Johnson. The right-hander responded with two strikeouts to give himself a chance to work out of the jam. However, Omar Hernandez’s groundball to short was mishandled by Jelfry Marte, allowing Gonzalez to score from second base. Johnson allowed just the unearned run over 5.0 innings. He struck out a career-nine batters and has allowed just two earned runs over his last 33.0 innings on the mound.
A four-run seventh inning that featured three triples closed the scoring. Ovalles walked to open the inning and scored on Matt Dyer’s groundball down the left field line that evaded left fielder Darryl Collins long enough for the batter to race into third. Merino split the outfielders with a line drive into the left-center gap and hustled into third with a second straight RBI triple. Following a walk to Marte and a flyout by Michael Berglund, Basabe hit the third three-bagger of the inning to plate two more and grow the advantage to 11-1.
Basabe and Dyer led the way with three hits each while Infante, Ovalles and Merino finished with two. Basabe collected four runs batted in and Merino added three. Infante extended his hitting streak to nine games, matching his season-high.
When Johnson departed, the bullpen made sure that the Fireflies would never threaten. Matthew Peguero was the first reliever used, pitching 3.0 scoreless innings as he struck out three. The ninth belonged to Graeme Stinson who faced the minimum thanks to a game-ending double play that he started.
In search of a seventh consecutive victory, the RiverDogs will have LHP Antonio Jimenez (0-0, 2.25) on the mound in game five on Saturday night. Columbia will counter with LHP Tyson Guerrero in his full-season debut. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.